SAHRC finds a church publication offensive and amounting to hate speech
28 February 2013
ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission has investigated and found against Living Hope Ministries and its lead Pastor W. Smith.
The Commission received a complaint in 2010 alleging that the Free State-based church and its pastor authored and published a racially offensive book entitled “Die Raadsplan”.
The complainant further alleges that in the book, which was distributed in various Christian book stores in the country, the church and its pastor depict the white races of the world as divinely ordained to be superior race which must rule over all other races.
As part of its preliminary investigation the Commission reviewed the book and found some key extracts that, to some extent, corroborated the complainant’s assertions. The extracts, translated from Afrikaans language which is used in the book include:
“To walk around naked and constantly being on the lookout for “hulk and roof” is characteristic of the African Black”;
“Any reference to these Blacks in the Bible must be searched for under the word “animal” or animals of the land or animals of the earth. The Blacks and the Mongolese are never included under the term “man/human being”. The Blacks or Negroid are a totally separate creation of the Adamic man. There is not a single indication in the Bible that interracial marriage is permissible”.
He further wrote:
“The Blacks are a race that destroy and have destroyed many civilizations”;
“He (Black man) will never be able to maintain what he has received from the white man. The deterioration of our entire infrastructure is a testimony to this. Good fertile and prosperous farms given to them, are nothing more than shantytowns/squatter camps full of erosion. When will our nation’s eyes be opened to the truth and they will stop giving pearls to swines and dogs”.
“Apartheid is scriptural. God does not want His people to be mixed with other people. He wants His people to remain within the boundaries He has set for them (Acts 17:26). To breach or offend this is punishable by God. The current equity and mixing policy of the Government of South Africa and the rest of the world is the spirit of the devil”.
The pastor and his church believe that they exercised their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, belief and opinion to write and make the above utterances.
It is the Commission’s view that the right to freedom of expression, does not extend to advocacy of hatred that is based on race and that constitute incitement to cause harm. Section 12 of the Equality Act provides that “no person may…publish or display any advertisement or notice that could reasonably be construed or reasonably be understood to demonstrate a clear intention to unfairly discriminate against any person...”
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The history and social context of South Africa renders the church’s publication racially discriminatory and amounting to hate speech. In fact it is the view of the Commission that the publication has the effect of undermining and regressing the gains that South Africa has made through constitutional values of equality and dignity. It has at its core the purpose of reverting the thoughts and ideas of congregants of the church, and those who will read the book, to pre-democratic South African values of white supremacy and black inferiority, which justified privileges and social hierarchy of white people.
The Commission concludes that such publication as “Die Raadsplan” is one that is unacceptable in a free and democratic dispensation that espouses equality as its central theme.
The Commission found that the publication of “Die Raadsplan” by the church and the pastor violates the following fundamental rights: right to Equality on the grounds of race, and the right to Human dignity.
The Commission further finds that the quoted sections of “Die Raadsplan”, both in terms of its content and its effect, can reasonably be construed to demonstrate an intention to be hurtful and to promote hatred through the dehumanization of African, Indian and Coloured people. The publication therefore amounts to hate speech within the meaning of Section 10 of the Promotion of the Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000, and as such the Commission rejects any possible defense available to the church and the pastor that the publication was made in exercise of the freedom of religion or freedom of expression.
The Commission therefore recommends that the Films and Publications Board should take the necessary steps to remove the offensive publication from all public channels of distribution, and to mete out appropriate administration and other sanctions in terms of the Films and Publications Act; that the Institute for Race Relations at the University of the Free State, in collaboration with the Governing Council of South African Council of Churches engage the Living Hope Ministries church and its Pastor Mr. Smith and the rest of its leadership and associate institutions, in a series of Race Relations Sensitisation Workshops, and report in writing to the Commission on the progress achieved by no longer that six months.
SA Human Rights Commission