Petition To CRL

Petition To CRL 

Petition for extension of consultation and broad engagement regarding, or the withdrawal of the Preliminary Report on the ‘commercialisation’ of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems 

Petition summary and background

The concerned religious communities who have duly affixed their names to the list below hereby lodge a petition to CRL to review its approach to the investigative study referenced above, including the report that has been compiled:

  1. We do not agree with your apparent need to fast track such significant research and findings through parliament to legislation at the expense of thorough engagement with stakeholders. Your sense of urgency in this matter and your willingness to overlook the need for consensus perplexes us.
  2. When you commenced your investigations the commission issued summons to selected leaders of churches, which we strongly believed were targeted for embarrassment and public humiliation. This harmed the credibility of your study badly and reduced it to a perceived witch hunt. 
  3. We further observe that your sampling method looks totally biased against popular indigenous churches and glaringly focused away from orthodox or Western churches. This underlines our complaint about the obvious unfairness of your entire exercise. Your sample was neither representative nor objective.
  4. Your preferred approach of summoning religious leaders to hearings grossly intimidated many of the respondents who participated in your study under duress. This was in violation of the basic norms of research which require consent, comfort and dignity which are mandatory for participants as a prerequisite of their contributing meaningfully to a study. Thus, your approach failed to meet the basic ethical standards of social research.
  5. The requirement for respondents to your study to reveal their financial statements was not only intrusive but a violation of the confidentiality of such matters.
  6. The recommendations of your report include unprecedented regulation and control of church activities in South Africa, namely (i) the need for licensing of pastors and (ii) minimum standards for places of worship. We find both these requirements to be inappropriate and outrageous in view of the diversity of doctrines in a democratic South Africa. We struggle to understand what your justification for such stringent requirements could possibly be, save for your keenness to exclude the majority of churches that cannot afford formal training for pastors or rental of places of worship.

Based on the above observations, we collectively consider the process you followed, and therefore the output (report,) to be significantly flawed. Both process and output would have benefitted from broader consultation and mutual engagement which your commission unfortunately overlooked. This was despite our numerous attempts to meet and share our concerns with your commission.

Action petitioned for 

  1. You withdraw the report in its entirety and restart the engagement process to make it more truly inclusive and objective,


  2. You extend the timelines for feedback to such a time that your commission will have objectively engaged a representative sample of key stakeholders on this  matter of national importance (preferably by July 2017)

  3. Your commission must respond to us, in writing, within 5 working days from date of dispatch of this petition.

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All African Federation of Churches    Contact the author of the petition