We continue our critique of the Christian Action document Biblical principles for Using Your Vote on http://www.savotersguide.com. The author’s final point concerns the parties’ position on racial discrimination.
Is this principle Biblical?
Yes. Scripture is abundantly clear that there is no distinction between ‘Jew and Greek’, and by implication black and white. The Good Samaritan teaches us that active love for all people, even the unlovely and one’s enemies, is the central Christian command.
As an aside, Hammond quotes Leviticus 24:22:
“You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.”
This verse is valid for the purpose, because it teaches that God approves of impartiality: one law for all, not double standards. I am concerned that Christians sometimes don’t take this idea on board though. The Constitution is an attempt at framing a law that can govern people of vastly different cultures and religions. However, Christians commonly seem to respond to the law as though it should be serving Christian interests. We need to be aware that whatever principles we demand also have to be generally applied to all groups and religions. If we ask to be treated differently, we’re opposing impartiality. If we ask to have Christian law enshrined in national law, then why can Muslims not ask the same?
Is it essential?
Yes, absolutely. It is unjust when parties set about to serve the interests of one group only at the expense of others in the country. Nationalist and tribalist parties should be shunned. It is worth pointing out that it is entirely possible for a Christian party to think itself justified in favouring Christians. We must avoid this mentality. Injustice continues to be injustice even when it happens to agree with us, or when it serves good ends. We must choose parties that recognise and serve all peoples in South Africa, even those with whom they happen to disagree.
Has the author been fair?
Absolutely not. The only criterion upon which he decides the yes/no answer is whether or not the party approves of affirmative action, which is a silly and deeply flawed criterion.
It is interesting how few white people were vocal when the ruling party clearly did discriminate on the basis of race. The church was almost entirely whisper-quiet under Apartheid. But now that we’ve all learned our lesson, it seems that Hammond would have us believe that the only racists are in the ANC, COPE and ID.
The ANC under Apartheid drafted the freedom charter, which explicitly claims equality for all races, and the new Constitution explicitly claims equality for all races. You can perhaps argue that affirmative action goes against these documents, or that it is unwise, but you need to first acknowledge that those documents represent the policy of that party, as well as COPE and the ID.
So, why is affirmative action not the same as racial discrimination, when clearly it involves the preference of one race group over another? Look very carefully at how the ANC puts it:
‘In order to redress our legacy of discrimination, the (AA) bill unavoidably recognises groups.’
Affirmative action explicitly claims to be necessary redress on the basis of discriminatory categories applied by the Apartheid government. In other words, because racist categories were very detrimentally applied in the past, in order to attempt a correction, the current government is forced to work with the Apartheid group classifications. It is not a reflection on the racism of the current government, it is a reflection of the racism of our last government. Affirmative action is not being driven by an inherent belief in qualitative difference between races on the part of our present political parties. There is a massive difference.
If you argue that it is a bad or further-damaging means of making redress, then go ahead and make your case (as the DA has done). You can even argue that the ANC is racist, if you have the evidence, but advocacy of affirmative action is not evidence in itself. What you can’t do is to follow Hammond in pretending that affirmative action is easily categorised as an unbiblical racial discrimination, or that Christian parties have been guiltless on that front, when obviously it was Christian politics that gave us Apartheid in the first place.
Furthermore, the VF Plus stood in support of the anti-integration stance of the Reitz Residence scandal, and surely is the front-running candidate (if anyone is) for having structural discrimination inherent to its outlook.