More Victories for Religious Freedom, Top TV Battle Continues
Supreme Court of Appeal Rules in Favour of Religious Freedom in Homosexual Minister Ousting Appeal
In a major victory for religious rights and the autonomy of the Church in South Africa, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last week held that “… a proper respect for freedom of religion precludes our courts from pronouncing on matters of religious doctrine, which fall within the exclusive realm of the Church”.
Rev Ecclesia de Lange was “discontinued” from ministry in the Methodist Church of South Africa after she announced her same sex “marriage” from the pulpit. The Supreme Court of Appeal last week dismissed her appeal for reinstatement
Courts Should Not Interfere in Church Doctrine
According to the SCA, the determination of who is morally and religiously fit to conduct pastoral duties or who should be excluded for non-conformity with the dictates of the religion, fall within the core of religious functions. As such, the matter should be left for determination by the church domestically and without interference by a court.
“A court should only become involved in a dispute where it is strictly necessary for it to do so. Even then, it should refrain from determining doctrinal issues in order to avoid entanglement”, said Judge Ponnan who delivered the judgment on behalf of the five Judges of Appeal who were all in agreement on the judgment, albeit for different reasons.
Following the judgment, De Lange is reported to have said that she was considering her position which may include an appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Helpful Legal Precedent
This is a victory for religious freedom and the autonomy of the Church in South Africa. The legal precedent (of non-interference in religious matters) established by the SCA will help greatly in the many other cases that churches are facing in South Africa.
Russia Hosts Family Conference
Over 1,000 delegates from all over the world were hosted by the Russian government in the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow for the Family and the Future of Humanity Conference. Organised in the name of St. Andrew and St. Basil Foundations, many of the presenters were housed at the exclusive President Hotel, reserved for official state business.
Threats to the Family Analysed
The International Forum confronted the "epoch of instability and social crisis" threatening "all key spheres of human development and civilisation. The destruction of moral standards… goodness, truth and beauty, and destruction of Faith in a creative natural order that distinguishes good from evil" was analysed and countered with pro-life, pro-family, moral Christian standards. Delegates discussed the "profound philosophical transformations…" of the "historical foundations of civilised human life…"
Marriage – Foundation of Civilisation
"Marriage between man and woman, with many children" was recognised as "the foundation of civilisation" and all threats to the family and war against the children through abortion, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, secular humanist education, evolutionism, and degenerate entertainment, as promoted by Hollywood, need to be exposed and opposed.
Judge Re-Convenes Court on Monday 13 October in Top TV Porn Battle
Mr Justice Bozalek has ordered counsel back to court next Monday to make further submissions in this matter which was heard for four days in the Western Cape High Court from 4-7 August earlier this year.
The matter before the court is JASA’s application (supported by separate applications from Cause for Justice and Doctors for Life) for an order that ICASA re-hear the application by On Digital Media to broadcast 3 pornographic channels on TV. ICASA granted the licence last year; JASA filed its challenge on 8 November 2013 alleging that ICASA failed to apply the correct legal principles.
At the hearing in August it emerged that ICASA were misled by ODM as to the nature of the pornography to be broadcast. ICASA were told the adult channels would show loving couples gazing “adoringly into each other’s eyes” in conventional sexual intercourse. In fact the broadcast schedule included titles such as Backdoor Bikini Milfs and Secret Lives of Kept Wives, promoting infidelity and unsafe sex. Advocate Darryl Cooke for JASA contended in court that ICASA “acted under an illusion as to the true content they were authorising.”
Counsel for ODM contended that there are no restrictions against adults watching porn in South Africa and therefore ICASA had no choice but to authorise the channels regardless of their content. He said there was no duty upon them to consider the nature of the content.
TV Content Should Also be Subject to Classification
JASA and its co-applicants contend that such an interpretation of the law is absurd; if movies shown in a cinema require classification according to content, Parliament could never have intended that there should be no classification process whatever for pornography to be screened in the home living room.
Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA) press release, 9 October 2014
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