Prayer initiative by Jericho Walls International Prayer Network in support of FOR SA
Deadline for comments: 15 February 2019
Over the past months, the Hate Speech Bill has featured in the news a number of times. This has given the public opportunity to comment before the matter is taken to parliament. This is now drawing to a close. The call for comments on the revised draft of the PREVENTION AND COMBATING OF HATE CRIMES AND HATE SPEECH BILL (“the Bill”) closes on 15 February 2019.
What is it all about?
Most notably, clause 4(1) of the Bill makes “hate speech” a crime – with potentially dire repercussions for freedom of (religious) expression. The offence will make any speech (as well as the distribution of such speech) that could be construed to be “harmful” on a wide range of grounds, a criminal act carrying a jail sentence of up to three (3) years. While we are encouraged by the inclusion of a “religious exemption clause” (in clause 4(2)(d)) in the Bill – as advocated for by FOR SA, and the many religious organisations and groups who previously made submissions on the Bill – concerns regarding the criminalisation of free speech remain.
What can I do by 15 February 2019?
Even if you have previously made a submission on the Bill (to the Deputy Minister of Justice), please do make a submission again (this time, to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice).Written submissions can be emailed to the Committee Secretary, Mr Vhonani Ramaano (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, 15 February 2019. Please use the TEMPLATE SUBMISSION we have prepared on the FOR SA website (www.forsa.org.za) to assist you in commenting / objecting to the provisions of the Bill which will significantly and negatively impact freedom of (religious) expression.
How do we pray now?
1.The RSA Constitution protects citizens to express their religious beliefs without fear of punishment or persecution. Increasingly, around the world but also in South Africa, Scriptures (particularly on contentious issues concerning sanctity of life, sexual orientation, gender, etc.) are regarded as “politically incorrect” or “offensive”, allegedly causing emotional and/or psychological harm. Pray for the RSA Constitution to be honoured by Parliament. Also, pray for inter-related bills and laws to be adhered to in the same manner.
2.The Bill could have certain unintended consequences, namely the criminalisation of believers who will be prosecuted and sent to jail for saying what they sincerely believe (according to the Scriptures). Let us continue to pray that as Christians, we will be able to preach, share and publish the Gospel and Biblical principles freely and without compromise.
3.There are already sufficient existing laws dealing with “hate speech”, and the recommendation of FOR SA is that the sections relating to “hate speech” be deleted from the Bill altogether. Alternatively, FOR SA recommends that “hate speech” be defined exactly as it is defined in section 16(2) of the Constitution – nothing more, nothing less – to ensure that all our constitutional rights are protected, and South Africa does not become a State that censors religious belief and expression. Please pray for the FOR SA legal team who is defending this matter on behalf of Christians, to be clear-minded, to be heeded, to be well-prepared and have favour with its audience to present the truth with undeniable integrity and conviction.
4.Pray about the submission of comments from across the nation. Ask that nothing will be lost or disregarded for any invalid reason, but to be counted as the voice of the people. Pray for those considering and processing these submissions, to have their hearts and minds touched by the Holy Spirit, regardless of their own conviction. Ask for righteousness and justice to prevail in this matter.
5.Be sure to pray about this matter in every prayer group you are part of over the next week. Wait on the Lord to show you how and what to pray. Especially take time to proclaim Scripture over this matter.
6.Read, proclaim and pray Psalm 85: 1 LORD, You have been favourable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. 2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah. 3 You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger. 4 Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease. 5 Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? 6 Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? 7 Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation. 8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. 11 Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.