Dear Rev. Meshoe
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The recent announcement by Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba: "Banning of American hate preacher, Steve Anderson from entering South Africa..." received applause and approval from a surprising number of South African Christians.
Just a short while ago, Christians in South Africa were horrified at the cancelling of meetings in Scotland for Angus Buchan. Outrageous and unfair accusations of hate-preacher and bigot, were published against Evangelist Angus Buchan at that time too.
What makes it wrong for Angus Buchan to be labelled a hate-preacher, yet right for us to label someone we probably know nothing about (aside from what the media, which is generally hostile to Christianity, has informed us)?
However, we have a Bill of Rights in South Africa:
15. Freedom of Religion, belief and opinion:
15.1. Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
16. Freedom of Expression:
16.1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes:
a. freedom of the press and other media,
b. freedom to receive or impart information or ideas,
c. freedom of artistic creativity and
d. academic freedom and freedom of scientific research…
17. Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition: Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.
18. Freedom of association: Everyone has the right to freedom of association.
21. Freedom of movement
21.1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement,
The South African Bill of Rights also, under article 35, assures accused persons of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to have adequate time and facilities to prepare defence and sufficient opportunity to answer accusations.
If we tolerate any government interfering with the religious freedom of one person's guest preacher, then what is to stop them from interfering with the freedom of association, opinion, movement and expression of another?
It is foolishness and hypocrisy for us to support a violation of the Bill of Rights just because some individuals in the media are accusing that person of being a bigot or "hate-preacher". Trial by media is seldom fair and just.
There is much that we would have to disagree with when it comes to the Dalai Lama (who claims to be a living god) and Steve Anderson. However, we must insist on their rights to be observed as much as we would for anyone else's. As a Bible-believing Christian, I must insist that Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses be allowed freedom of conscience, expression, movement, etc. We do not need to support them, or even listen to them. However, we must firmly object when any government attempts to interfere with the religious freedom of anyone.
Religious freedom must be for all, even those we disagree with. If you support banning one preacher - what is to stop the state banning your guest speaker in future? This is an ominous and bad precedent and those who have unthinkingly supported this outrageous infringement on religious freedom by the Ministry of Home Affairs, should think again.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said that we should do unto others as we would want be done unto ourselves.
May God continue to bless, guide and strengthen you.
In His service
Dr. Peter Hammond