FORSA


http://forsa.org.za/sign-the-petition-to-support-parental-rights/

 

 

*Update (as at 27 November 2017):  Subsequent to the filing of the application for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein, the SCA advised that the application should be referred directly to the Constitutional Court. In the circumstances, FOR SA will shortly be filing our application with the Constitutional Court instead.

 

Background

As you may be aware, the High Court of Johannesburg recently delivered a judgment which abolished the historic defense of “reasonable and moderate chastisement”. This has been used by parents for generations as a defense against an assault charge for (reasonably and moderately) disciplining their child/ren.  Please note that this was never a defense to violence and abuse against child/ren, which is clearly a criminal matter where the State has a duty to intervene.

There is an obvious and fundamental difference, however, between moderate chastisement by a parent motivated by love and in the best interest of their child/ren on the one hand, and physical violence or abuse on the other hand.

Following this judgment, there has been a massive public outcry – not only from religious parents, but also from non-religious parents whose parental rights and authority have now been significantly diminished.

FOR SA, who was initially invited by the Court to be a “Friend of the Court” in the matter, is the only party left in the case with the opportunity to appeal this judgment. After careful consideration and the unanimous approval of our leadership team (Michael Cassidy (AE); Moss Ntlha (TEASA); Barry Isaacs (CCC) and Andrew Selley (JoshGen/Four12), we believe it necessary to pursue this legal recourse and have subsequently filed for leave to appeal.  We have been advised that this appeal will be directly to the Constitution Court.

Note: FOR SA’s appeal only relates to the constitutional issue considered by the Court [i.e.] whether reasonable and moderate chastisement is congruent with the Constitution. The appeal specifically does not concern the merits of whether the father’s appeal against his conviction by the Magistrate’s Court on charges of common assault should be upheld.

Here are the main reasons FOR SA believes that an appeal is important:

  1. The judgment circumvents normal legislative process, which is especially important to follow since this decision affects so many citizens.

The judgment circumvents the normal legislative process, which is especially important to follow since this decision affects so many citizens. While High Courts have a constitutional obligation to develop the common law in line with our Constitution, FOR SA’s concern is that the judgment is an over-reach and effectively usurps the power of Parliament, which has the primary responsibility of law reform.  In this regard, we point out that when deliberating the Children’s Act in 2005, Parliament, as the democratically elected representatives of the people of South Africa, made a deliberate and considered decision to retain the right of parents to reasonably and moderately chastise their children as part of SA law. However, in this case and with a stroke of a pen, two judges have now effectively overruled Parliament’s decision and circumvented the legislative process.

  1. Religious rights curtailed.

Freedom of religion, which is granted to all South Africans by section 15 of our Constitution, is doctrinally neutral.  It is given to protect the right of every citizen to believe and to live out their faith, before God and in obedience to the law of the land – without fear of persecution or retribution.

Christian parents in particular differ in their interpretation of the Scriptures (most of which are found in the Book of Proverbs) which focus on the discipline of children by their parents.  Some parents, over centuries, have believed that these Scriptures instruct (or at the very least, permit) moderate and reasonable physical chastisement, usually as a last resort but nevertheless as part of their responsibility to raise their children.  Others interpret this as using other forms of discipline to encourage obedience and “good behaviour” from their children.

A concerning element of this case is that two judges of a provincial division of the High Court have now effectively ruled, for the whole of South Africa, that “it is permissible to require religious parents who believe in corporal punishment to be expected to obey the secular laws, rather than permitting them to place their religious beliefs above [what in the view of the Judge is] the best interests of their children.”

An interpretation of Scripture which is held by many has therefore been declared invalid and if parents continue to follow their conscience, they will now be committing a crime.  This sets an unfortunate and potentially dangerous precedent since religious rights have been curtailed and limited by the judgment.

  1. The rights of children have been ruled to trump parental and religious rights, which sets a dangerous precedent.

While children most certainly have constitutional rights and these rights must be protected, there is a clear recognition in law that a child does NOT have equal rights to an adult in all circumstances – hence the age of consent for sexual activity, the age of voting, laws against drinking and smoking before a certain age, etc. This case has set a precedent where children’s rights have trumped parental and religious rights and this may be extended in future to other areas. For example, in the context of transgender issues, it is quite foreseeable that this case will be used as authority to insist that parental caution and concern be overruled in favour of a young child’s desire for hormone suppressant treatment and/or gender reassignment surgery.

  1. More parenting tools are needed, not fewer.

FOR SA is not for, or against, spanking – but we do support the rights of parents to decide for themselves, according to their moral or religious convictions, how to discipline their child/ren. For many parents, reasonable and moderate spanking – at times, where needed, always in love – is ONE of the methods which is used to raise responsible children who know the difference between right and wrong, but not the only method that parents should employ. We are in favour of more “training tools”, not fewer.

Given that the latest statistics show that over 30 million South Africans live on less that R1,000 per month and in small (often over-crowded) accommodation, there may be no (or very few) alternatives to reasonable and moderate chastisement for parents in these communities.  There may well be no “naughty corner” in a rural dwelling, and what “privileges” do you take away from children who have none?

  1. Criminalising parents is not in the best interests of the family and child/ren.

There is a large body of credible social science that shows that mild corporal punishment is not harmful for children, and may even be beneficial.  This was ignored by the Court, who made a decision that any form of chastisement in all circumstances – regardless of how light, or well-intended – to be detrimental and harmful to children. As such, any parent who uses any form of physical chastisement or restraint on their child, can be charged with the criminal offence of assault, with the following consequences – which may well not be in the best interests of the child:

  • Any report of an assault will likely lead to a highly disruptive investigation, which is certain to strain family dynamics.
  • If found guilty, the parent will have a criminal record for assault of a minor (i.e. child abuse). This is a serious crime, regardless of how minor the “assault” may have been.  It is often grounds for the automatic termination of a contract of employment, sponsorship etc.  It will certainly count against the person when he/she applies for future employment since this a background check is often a requirement.  The resulting financial hardship to the family may have serious long-term disadvantages to the child.
  • A criminal record is a lifetime inhibitor for things like visa applications for travel purposes, which can also have detrimental consequences from an employment perspective.
  • There is the potential for children to “blackmail” their parents and/or for one spouse to use this against the other, especially in divorce proceedings.
  1. The experience of New Zealand shows that this decision is likely to have detrimental results.

It is interesting to note the results from recent surveys in New Zealand, where the “reasonable and moderate chastisement” defense was removed from parents in 2007.  These surveys found that:

  • a third of parents of younger children say that their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked.
  • one in four parents of younger children say that they have less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behaviour from their children.
  • Police statistics show that not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law:
    • there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse
    • 43% increase in sexual abuse
    • 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children.


Support FOR SA

Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the freedoms and rights that the South African Constitution has granted to the faith community. You can help FOR SA protect our freedom by:

  • Praying for us as we defend this precious freedom before government and courts of law;
  • Signing up (at no cost) to FOR SA at http://forsa.org.za/contact-us/join-us/ andsubscribing to our Newsletter;
  • Following us, and sharing our posts, on Facebook  at “Freedom of Religion SA”;
  • Informing us, should you become aware of any case in which religious freedom is threatened;
  • Making a financial contribution to FOR SA at http://forsa.org.za/donate/ As a non-profit organisation, we are entirely dependent upon God’s grace for finances. Your generosity will help make a significant difference as we work to fulfil our mission to keep the Gospel free by advocating for religious freedom. We appreciate every gift, big or small!
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DON’T QUIT by Frank Collins – 1952


Rest if you must, but don't you quit!
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure has turned about,

When they might have won had they stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,

You may succeed with another blow!

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering one,

Often the struggler has given up

When they might have captured the victor’s cup.

And they learned too late, when the night slipped down,

How close they were to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,

The silver tint to the clouds of doubt.

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far.

So stick to the task when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things seem the worst, that you must not quit!

~ Frank Collins – 1952

Slow Down Fast


Let’s slow down for a while,
Get out the car and walk the mile.
For some this means erasing that smile, 
And just the thought of this could turn them vile.

Do we even cry out enough 
Or have this world become so tough,
We often forget we have to show love 
Or even that we need strength from up above

Sometimes we go way to fast 
But just how long will our strength last
Do we ever learn from our past,

Slow down…

It’s time we stop and break down our gasps

 

Slow down and rest you must 
Slow down you’ve been going too fast 
Slow down now won’t you at last 
Slow down and learn from the past

What we want


Some things we get easy,

And others we have to fight for,

If the latter we appreciate it more.

 

We can’t always get what we want,

We might think we deserve to,

But we can’t always get the bigger part.

 

Just hang in there, just hold on tight,

Not always easy, don’t give up the fight,

Fight for what’s right and with all might,

Just hang in there, the end is in sight.

 

Nobody said the road will be easy,

Nobody promised it to be the best,

And what if it was,

Where would be the test?

 

Tests and Trials are there for us to bear,

And bear in mind,

Nobody said it would be fair. 

 

Just hang in, just hold on and just trust in His time.

Let me be meek


Not because it’s Friday, Saturday or even Sunday

But I want to know you everyday

Not for what I’ve done or who I am

But because YOU are the great I AM

It’s because of what you have done,

Let me praise you through the storm

 

I’m no member of a church,

But let me be a member of YOU

My soul in YOU should merge

Because I know YOUR love is true

 

Not for what I can do,

But I wish I can love like you do

 

On my own I am weak,

But you are mighty to save

Let me remain amongst the meek

But fight the good fight and be brave

 

I know I can count on you,

Because when I’m weak I am strong

And I know I’ll never walk alone

Even in the darkest, YOUR mercies are new

Nurturing Love


Nurturing Love.

Love comes with no terms – it comes with no conditions
Love comes with no but(s) or maybe(s) – it has no if(s), no formulae.
Love is enduring; love wants to let it be!
Love is timeless, it’s under no watch – love’s not time’s fool
No time can take it away, if it can – you have never loved!
Love is not bound by time – love is unconditional
Not here today and gone tomorrow
Look after it well for your love to grow
Love needs to be nurtured –
Or else it will stagnate – or even hibernate
One morning you might think it too late
Assurance advises to think it not –
Love never gives up; it is an ever-fixed mark
Plan the dates to be nice, even at a price to sacrifice
Do not end the romance – use it until the end
Love acquire and love require
Love acquire trust and love require sacrifice at times even a little compromise
They say compromise is wrong
But for the right reason, compromise can be extremely strong
If I be big and strong, but have no love, I will be alone and wrong
Be it that I have might and fame, but lacks love – I’d be just a sight of shame
If I give to the poor, or give my life – without love it means none
Love is so patient and love is so kind, it is so unselfish and so very fine
It does not boast of what it’d done, it does not want the best spot in the sun
Love is righteous, truthful, bearable, believing, hopeful
Love is humble – Love is to help one that might stumble
We should have faith, we should have hope, but best of all we should have love!

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?


Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

 

The voice of Cain echoes loud

And in a tone so proud;

Every time one asks this question,

But just how often do we raise this question?

Am I the one responsible?

If we are the body and He is the head

When one is weak, you should be strong

To them you shall be witnesses.

How many of us have the will,

Am I willing to be broken bread?

And poured-out wine for Him all along

Do I ask what point is this?

Or do I charge them with a bill

Be I strong or be I sad,

Or do I point out all their wrongs

And look at chances they have missed?

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Should I dry his eyes when he’s weeping?

And should I watch over him while he’s sleeping

Maybe I should be my brother’s keeper

And build our bond much more deeper

And guard him from the evil reaper.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Through His Grace


For you can search all over from place to place

Life can chase you from maze through maze

And at any given stage

You will find his amazing grace

And your iniquity He will erase

You will feel His love even in your taste

And His warm and hearty embrace

And your heart will beat at a steady pace

Whenever you welcome Him into your space

Your heart will chase

As He leaves His holy trace

In the centre of your special place

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