Special to ASSIST News Service
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (ANS) -- A Cape Town church has been charged by the South African Human Rights Commission over its views on corporal punishment. The church, Joshua Generation, has called on other South African churches to join it in standing against what they see as a government attack on freedom of religion.
Pastor Andrew Selley and his wife Emma
The Commission has charged Joshua Generation with its teaching of "spare the rod and spoil the child."
However Senior Pastor, Andrew Selley, after meeting with religious rights lawyers and has issued a statement declaring that, "the real problem is that this is an attempt to curb religious freedom. If we don't oppose this it will lead to Christian churches being prohibited from teaching the Bible as they understand it."
"We call on Muslims and Jews to speak out against this situation because this is a struggle for religious freedom," said Selley in an interview yesterday.
Selley says that there has been an overwhelming response from both individuals as well as several large churches that have supported them in their fight for religious freedom.
Family Policy Institute Director, Errol Naidoo supported Selley's call on church leaders: "If Joshua Generationcannot share what the Bible teaches about child discipline it means that the whole church will forfeit its right to teach Biblical Christian principles. If the Human Rights Commission or any other government agency wants to dictate what the church can teach or not teach, it means the end of church autonomy.
A recent Global Gathering event at the church
Corporal punishment in the home is not illegal in South Africa but it has been outlawed at schools since 2006. The Government is currently working on draft legislation to outlaw spanking at home.
African Christian Democratic Alliance representative and Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, who met withJoshua Generation Church leaders today, advised the church to use the opportunity of the investigation to inform the commission that it is aware of the problem of violence against children in South Africa and offers parenting courses and other guidance to equip parents to discipline their children in a safe, and non-abusive way.
Selley said the church will inform the commission of its responsible parenting measures as well as its community outreach projects aimed at protecting children.
"At the same time we hope that the church in South Africa will rally around us and tell the commission to back off," he said.
This investigation is the second recent case in which the State human rights watchdog's activities have raised questions about an apparent agenda of attacking religious freedom. In April the Commission found Creare Christian Arts Training Centre in Bloemfontein guilty of discriminating against homosexuals for holding a Bible-based view that homosexual practice is sinful. Creare is appealing against the ruling which will be decided in the Constitutional Court.