Church book is ‘hate speech’
Bloemfontein - The contents of a book called “Die Raadsplan” by Living Hope Ministries and its founding pastor Willie Smit amount to hate speech, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Thursday.
“It found the church publication offensive and amounting to hate speech,” spokesman Isaac Mangena said.
The commission received a complaint in 2010 claiming the Free State-based church and its pastor authored and published a racially offensive book entitled “Die Raadsplan”.
The complainant said the book, the church and its pastor depicted the white race as divinely ordained to be superior to and rule over all other races.
The publication was distributed to various Christian book stores in the country.
Mangena said the commission had found some parts of the book to some extent corroborated the complainant's assertions.
The pastor and his church believed they had exercised their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, belief and opinion to write and make the utterances.
However, the commission's view was that the right to freedom of expression did not extend to advocacy of hatred based on race, and that constituted incitement to cause harm.
The commission held the publication was racially discriminatory and amounted to hate speech.
It concluded that such publications were unacceptable in a free and democratic dispensation that espoused equality as its central theme.
The commission recommended that the Films and Publications Board take steps to remove the publication from all public distribution channels.
It also supported appropriate administrative and other sanctions in terms of the Films and Publications Act.
The commission held that the Institute for Race Relations at the University of the Free State, in collaboration with the Governing Council of SA Council of Churches, should engage the Living Hope Ministries church and Smit in a series of race relations sensitisation workshops.
The commission asked for a written report on the progress achieved in six months. - Sapa