DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH
October 25th, 2007
The Honorable Baleka Mbete
Speaker of the National Parliament
PRESENTATION OF THE DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH REGARDING THE Dutch Reformed Churches Union Repeal Bill.
In this presentation the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) would like to express its support for the repealing of the Dutch Reformed Churches Union Act no 23 of 1911 by supporting The Repeal of the Dutch Reformed Churches Union Repeal Bill, on the following grounds:
Act should be seen within its historical context, which is the year after the
founding of the Union of South Africa on May 31st 1910. With this the unification of the four British
that stage the federated DR Churches (synods) were divided according to the provincial
Act at that stage also protected the rights of Coloured members of the
4. Because of the fact that the required 75 persent majority vote for unification from all the congregations (represented by the local church counsels) could not be attained in the next year (1912), the unification was never realized in terms of this Act of 1911.
in 1962 did these churches unite as one church. This was made possible by the
acceptance of The Private Act on the Dutch Reformed Church in
in October 1962 the General Synod of the DR Church was founded in
7. Ons grounds of this historical explanation alone, the existence of Act no 23 of 1911 is irrelevant and should therefore be repealed.
the acceptance of the (knew) Constitution of South Africa in 1996, the
relationship between church and state is determined particularly by sections 15
and 18. Freedom of Religion and the
principle of Free Association in
9. Under our new Constitution an act like this one of 1911 can in any case not be constitutionally valid, as the respective territories of church (religion) and state are now clearly separated. In this dispensation it is very unlikely that a law relating to individual churches (or religions) would be considered constitutionally possible. With the acceptance of the Constitution of South Africa in 1996 all laws are to be rewritten, repealed or replaced with new ones in terms of the values stated in the Constitution.
the DR Church thus supports the repealing of Act 23 of 1911, we however consider
the objectives of the proposed legislation formulated in B. The Objectives of
the Proposed Legislation completely inappropriate. This document clearly states that the
intention of the repealing of this act is to remove any obstacles in the
process of the unification process of the “Verenigde Gereformeerde Kerk, Reformed
11. Please note that the names of the churches in this document are not only incorrect, but also incomplete. The suggested unification will be between four churches, not three. It should be: The Uniting (Verenigende) Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA), the Reformed Church in Africa (RCA), the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) and the Dutch Reformed Church of South-Africa (DRC).
12. Our objection to the specific motivation in this document is on the following grounds:
13. The Act of 1911 has got nothing to do with the current process of unification of the DR Church with the other churches in the DRC family (refer to 2-6 above). It was concerned with the four separate, DR Church synods of the four provinces of the Union of South Africa.
14. The Dutch Reformed Church herewith does not deny that Act 23 of 1911, article/clause 9 do indeed discriminated against Coloured members of the Cape synod (see point 3 above). It should however be noted that this act referred to members of the DRC – and not members of any of the other DR Church mission churches.
15. The further argument that “The unification of these three churches is long overdue and all efforts must be made to assist in this process” is completely irrelevant (and of no meaning) to the repealing of Act 23 of 1911.
16. The motivation for the repealing of this act of 1911 should not be grounded in the present unification process, but in the irrelevance of the act itself, as describe above – particularly in the light of the fact that the objective of this act was in any case reached with the founding of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa in 1962.
Thank you for the privilege to serve this matter in a positive way. The Dutch Reformed Church trusts that our presentation will help the National Parliament to make a positive decision by repealing Act no 23 of 1911.
JJ Gerber (dr) BJ du Toit (dr)
General Secretary Parliamentary Desk