Skip to content

Government Departments (3) Dept of Justice

The following article by activist Christina Engela appeared on the blog “Sour Grapes: The Fruit of Ignorance” on 20140801:

The Department of Justice Pamphlet “Harmful Religious Practice Is A Crime” – An Analysis.

Page one, panel 1(Right):

Practise your religion or belief in a way that builds you.

Title: “Harmful Religious Practice Is A Crime

Page 2, panel 1 (Left):

Harmful Religious Practices:

1) Many people, in particularly children are hurt or killed as a result of some form of practise which are perceived as part of a religion.

This statement is in and of itself taken as a standalone statement, correct. However, this is only true in the sense of the large number of people in rural South Africa who are accused of witchcraft and who are either forced to flee their villages for fear of violence directed at them by their neighbors and even their families who frequently use Christian doctrine as an excuse to “not suffer a witch to live”. Many are killed each year due to this harmful practise, although the victims themselves typically do not self-identify as witches or practise witchcraft. Frequently the true motives indicate that this is a convenient way to obtain property or to exact revenge on the victims for some personal matter.

2) These incidents often happen in schools or among young people.

This is of course a swipe taken at the recent allegations of “satanism” in schools – or incidents which have been labeled “satanism” by those either ignorant of what Satanism is as a religion, or opposed to the existence of Satanism as a religion, or both. The incidents referred to as occurring in schools are not religious Satanism at all, but the actions of “legend trippers” influenced by the ORC/SAPS and similar Christian ministries conducting spiritual warfare in schools by enforcing the notion that “Satanism” (and the acts they wrongfully associate with Satanism) will give the impoverished and ignorant children seeking a way out of their circumstances the power over others to do so.

The pamphlet conveniently omits to mention the fact that in most state schools, a Christian doctrine and ethos replete with rituals and ceremonies is forced upon all students, regardless of their own religious affiliations or beliefs, coupled with a varying degree of intimidation upon those who would dare deviate from the set Christian norm as they are entitled to under the Constitution. Thus, Christian doctrine and indoctrination is touted as being acceptable in pubic schools and not considered “incidents of abuse”, while criminal acts not truly associated with other religious or spiritual paths are wilfully linked to these by hearsay from the media and self-proclaimed “occult experts” who think wearing black or losing concentration in class makes people “Satanists”.

3) These incidents are often regarded as practices protected by “freedom of religion”.”

Again, the incidents used to paint certain religions as “dangerous” or “criminal” by the Christian warfare ministry within the SAPS (Occult Related Crime unit) which are not linked to the real religions being literally ‘demonized’ by them, are used as a pretext to outlaw identification with these religions – in short, making it difficult for children (or even parents of children in such schools) to identify publicly with their spiritual beliefs for fear of intimidation or unwelcome attention from the SAPS based on suspicion of criminal activity solely for being open about their religious affiliations. This is a violation of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, to which this pamphlet refers, and no amount of propaganda and outright lies will obscure that fact.

What the Constitution/Law Says About Religion:

1) Everyone has the right to freedom of religion or belief“.

On its own, this mention seems innocent enough – but viewed as part of the whole, the intent can be viewed as nothing other than sinister. Yes, everyone ideally is allowed to affiliate with any religion they wish to – if they are willing to suffer the consequences. What consequences in the New SA? Aren’t Pagans and Satanists and occultists safe from discrimination on the grounds of religion? No, they aren’t.

People are still treated like criminals or potential criminals based upon their religious affiliations or even perceived religious affiliations. People are evicted from their homes and business premises, fired from their jobs and prevented from enrolling in schools etc based upon their religious affiliations. People are murdered based upon suspicions of their religious practices formed by misinformation and ignorance of what their perceived religions and practices really ARE. The Press Ombudsman categorically refuses to accept ANY complaints by Pagans about slander in the media for example, thus giving license to abusers to abuse people based upon their religious affiliations.

Ironically, in the worst betrayal of a public office holder in a body intended to protect the public, the ORC commanding officer Col Attie Lamprecht (a Christian evangelicalist pastor himself) was quoted in the media several years ago as saying that “Satanism is not a crime, but it is a belief system that leads to crime.” That viewpoint alone can be used to sum up the core message of this pamphlet.

Everyone has the right to believe whatever religion they wish – but if they dare to identify with a religion that is not Christian, then they are potential criminals to be suspected of killing cats and fiddling with kids or working evil magic against their Christian neighbors. This is propaganda at its worst, creating a false and unfair stereotype based upon lies and religious prejudice.

2) This right can be limited if it interferes with the rights of others.

This should have continued “…except of course if it is Christian doctrine being used to interfere with the rights of Pagans, Satanists and occultists, because naturally, Christians are the “good guy cops” and the rest are just criminals using religious freedom clauses that don’t belong in the Constitution and don’t really apply to them anyway because they are conducting ‘harmful practices’.”

Oddly enough, no cases of abuse are known to have been logged based upon complaints of Christian doctrine being forced upon children from occult religions in PUBLIC state-funded schools, or cases of bullying based upon religious oppression.

Christian pastors posing as policemen and “deliverance ministries” receive praise for their work in ‘rescuing people from Satanism” but nobody seems to question their self-proclaimed status as “occult experts”, or their volumes of statements to their followers in church, the media – or in government – which are filled with exaggerations, lies and fabrications and intended to destroy those who choose to follow religious belief systems other than theirs.

This point is being used as a convenient excuse to limit the rights to religious freedom being exercised by law-abiding citizens on the misunderstanding of what their religions truly are about and what they entail. Instead, they have fabricated a lie and perpetuate it to the public as if it were fact, lending them the appearance of just crusaders against “crime”.

Except they aren’t just, and it isn’t criminals they are persecuting – it is people who exercise their right to not be Christians whom they scapegoat for the acts of criminals who fullfill their own self-fullfilling legend-tripping prophecies.

3) Participation in religious activities MUST NOT BE harmful to others or even to yourself.

Oddly enough, when it comes to the harmful activities (condemned and even illegal in many first-world countries around the world) conducted by so-called “ex-gay ministries”, which are Christian (and even Jewish) organizations founded upon interpretations of religious doctrine intended to coerce LGBT people to deny their sexual orientations or gender identities in the name of their religious doctrines, no actions are taken against these bodies. This includes cases where people have been abducted into “boot camps” by their families, or who have voluntarily entered into such facilities in vain attempts to change their sexual orientation in order to satisfy religious prejudices. Instead, in South Africa they stand protected under the “freedom of religion” clauses in the Constitution and still peddle their snake-oil and venom via social media and via Christian networks. Yet the harm they inflict on their victims is measurable and recognized around the world – hence why these practices and those who advocate them, have been outlawed there.

However, in the section stating “or even to yourself” the culpability and the responsibility of an adult is undermined when it comes to choosing to be a part of a religion other than that of the mainstream. This is similar to the Muslim extremist view that anyone choosing to convert away from Islam “must be insane”, viewing alternatives to the set religion as being a) inherently harmful and b) rejection of their own “one true way”.

Conveniently however, identifying with other religions which embrace the wholeness of the individual, or which go contrary to the prevailing Christianist ethos of supplication, conformity and obedience to the doctrine – are falsely portrayed as ‘harmful to others’, or even to the individual identifying with them – and often to the point of hysteria.

4) Any form of religious practice or belief which seeks to hurt, harm, destroy another will be punishable in terms of the law.

Despite the most admirable intent of this statement, it seems that Abrahamic religions are exempt from this statement in general.

“Exorcisms” are still conducted in cult-like church settings, with sickly victims (frequently children) suffering abuses and even dying from these abuses based upon religious ignorance about illnesses like epilepsy being perceived as “demonic possession”. It seems these practices continue unabated, while the attention of the Law (specifically the ORC) remains focused upon the “Satanist conspiracy” plotting in the bushes behind every house, or seeking to place subliminal messages in music.

5) Using religious practice or belief cannot be an excuse.

In an ideal situation, this should be the case. However, this situation is not ideal. In this situation, it is the adherents of one religion who dominate the SAPS and its ORC unit, and likely the Dept of Justice as well (since it has become the instrument for delivering this misinformed and biased document) and who are abusing their authority and state power and resources to oppress the adherents of other religions which it deems unacceptable based on upbringing and prejudice exacerbated by unfounded lies, paranoia and fearfulness.

Page 2, panel 2 (Center):

Using religion or belief is not an excuse when you are arrested for committing a crime!

This should be true, but is it? In South Africa people are arrested for committing crimes regardless of the motives behind the crimes… however, the Media – and more frequently, representatives of the Police – make uninformed and ignorant statements linking these crimes to legitimate religions and belief systems which have nothing to do with the commission of criminal acts or the criminals in question and whose ethos and practices completely contradict what these “experts” claim they do.

That aside, once again South African society is troubled by the enforcement of double standards. It is for example perfectly acceptable for the representatives of State bodies to condemn criminals in the media and in public platforms based upon their religions – except when these religions are shared by those doing the condemning. It has become acceptable to confuse the public by repeating ad infinitum the lie that the acts of legend trippers (who believe their lies and adopt them as their own) represent the beliefs of minority religions and belief systems which are being misrepresented by them. It has become acceptable to reinforce the lie that the legend trippers created by their misinformation propaganda and real occultists are one and the same and represent a significant criminal threat to the public – and that “the public” is a group which does not include them.

Page 2, panel 3 (Right):

Signs that may show that someone is being influenced by a harmful or dangerous belief or practice:

It is likely that the description of a dangerous or harmful practice may be possible, given the definitions in the statues of Law – but how does one quantify what constitutes a “harmful or dangerous belief “? Is freedom of conscience or expression not part of the Constitution, regardless of what that belief is? If one cannot be tried (theoretically, at least for now) for holding a belief – ANY belief, then why is it the focus of the Department of Justice and the SA Police what may constitute a “harmful or dangerous belief”? Are we a police state? If not and if beliefs are not illegal, then the DOJ and SAPS are over-stepping their boundaries and acting outside the law and in an unconstitutional manner.

Your friend or classmate develops a new or odd way of behaving;”

Since this document is aimed at children or teenagers, and teenage development is perpetually in a state of change, this patently stupid statement is likely to result in more than a few witch-hunts in any school environment.

becomes unusually aggressive, very quiet or secretive;

Bravo. The drafter has just described every ‘hormonal’ teenager on Earth, and in fact a natural series of personality development of every individual in this vague and irresponsible statement.

loses concentration or suddenly does poorly at school despite the fact that he or she was once a brilliant learner;

It is likely that kids who develop learning problems, problems at home or other emotional difficulties typical of teenage development or who have learning disabilities will have an interesting time persuading over-zealous teachers or classmates that they are not “influenced by a harmful or dangerous belief or practice”. This point is over-simplified and generalized and irresponsible.

insists on wearing black [in bold] clothes, dyes her hair black and/or regularly wears black make-up;

Here we find the proof that the source for this fallacious document is the SAPS website where “warning signs” of “involvement with the occult” are displayed, despite the fact that the entire basis for the list is nothing more than hysterical nonsense peddled by short-sighted and ignorant individuals pushing their own personal views into the policy of a government department intended to serve the public trust and not to conduct, as it has been, an ongoing witch hunt.

Wearing of black clothing, make-up or hair is not a sign of occult involvement, “satanism” or “harmful beliefs or practice” – it is a fashion statement popular in particular with teenagers, people who identify with Gothic or Emo subculture. Why are people whose natural hair-color is black not suspected of “being influenced by harmful beliefs or practices”? Why are they not being encouraged to change their hair color if they actually believed that this nonsense were indeed true? This point is entirely facetious and of as much factual worth as believing that the Earth is flat simply because things do not fall off it.

talks about being in touch with the devil or about black magic;

Again, we are addressing belief here. Belief is an iffy ground, where the onus of proof cannot be satisfied. A belief – particularly a religious belief, is not something which can be proven in a court of law. It cannot be substantiated by providing a solid tangible piece of evidence. Many people use the Christian “devil” as a scapegoat for natural disasters, misfortunes in their personal lives and so on – but nobody has yet proved the existence of either the character or the act of magic as having any physical effect in the real world. Courts of law in this country do not recognize either – why then is talking about being in contact with an improvable mythical entity or talking about magic of any kind enough to bring anyone under suspicion of criminal activity? When criminals use the “Devil made me do it” as a defense, why are they and their ludicrous claims taken seriously? Is there no longer an onus on the state to prove evidence of guilt, or is suspicion of suspicion now enough to conclude that someone is tied to criminal activity solely because they may speak of things which their own religion dictates are intolerable? Is this not biased in and of itself?

People talk about other mythical intangible characters (such as the Christian God) every day, and use same as an excuse to incite harm against people they dislike – and they do so publicly and without shame – and yet oddly enough, the DoJ and SAPS do not appear to formulate informational pamphlets on how to categorize them?

If the aim of this document is to warn about harmful practices, then it fails on the point of vagueness, trips over incomplete statements, stumbles over broad generalizations and drowns in a mire of inaccuracies – all of which have been warned against by activist bodies within the Pagan community of South Africa, for one – for a protracted period longer than a decade.

shows addiction to reading or watching black magic books and movies;”

Oddly enough, NOWHERE in this ill-informed document intended to warn TEENAGERS about the alleged dangers of religious practices, is the term “black magic” explained or expounded upon. How are they supposed to know what it means? How are they supposed to know the difference between black magic, white magic and even gray magic – or that the alternatives exist? Are we to assume that the drafters of this pamphlet are of the same opinion as the ORC doctrine that views all of them as being the same thing? Or will the impressionable and gullible teen reader simply accept this intimated view without question?

Of course, we know how extremist religious elements view “black magic books and movies”… they include everything from books on kitchen witchcraft, natural remedies, crystals, tarot and energy-healing techniques to Harry Potter and Twilight in that category. Suitably vague, as with everything else. And yet these books can be bought legally in South Africa, imported legally, downloaded off the net legally, shared legally.

Books and movies are not banned in South Africa, at least not since 1996. Even a book like “the Pink Agenda” which demonizes gay and lesbian people by perpetuating slander, lies and incitement to hate against a minority group in contravention of the Constitution has been allowed to continue circulating unhindered since 2000 because the authors used their Christian religious views as a defense to peddle their shameful prejudice and bigotry. Even the most violent book in the world – the Bible (and to a lesser degree other religious scriptures such as the Q’uran and Torrah) is freely distributed, and people – hordes of people, become obsessed with these books and use them to inflict harm upon themselves and others – and yet no particular mention or distinction of this is made here.

boasts about having spiritual powers that could cause harm to others;

This seems to be no more intimidating than hearing a person claiming that their god will visit actions of one kind or another on their enemies or on people whom they perceive to be undesirable; and yet no attempt to apply this alleged classification against Christians, Muslims or other religious groups aside from Satanists (already indicated by mention of the devil in a previous list-point), Pagans and occultists is made. It appears that only occultists boast about having spiritual powers that could cause harm to others, and people like the venomous pastor in the Western Cape who threatens LGBT people on Twitter and Facebook and from his pulpit with hellfire and eternal damnation and causes emotional trauma to LGBT Christians are more protected by “religious freedom” than his victims.

forces you to join his/her religion and does not listen when you refuse;

This statement is laced with irony. In most public schools – schools that are not private and which are funded by tax money paid by the public – there is a strongly enforced Christian religious ethos. This is typically forced on all learners, and children who dare to be open about being Pagan or even atheistic are frequently intimidated, forced to attend Christian ceremonies, prayer etc against their will. Parents within the Pagan community frequently report hiding their own and their children’s religious affiliations from school staff for fear that they will either not be admitted to the school, or because they fear discrimination, intimidation, bullying and other repercussions. Odd how this sort of harmful practice does not seem to warrant the attention of the SAPS, ORC, or DoJ.

That aside, religious Satanists generally do not even have groups, let alone demand attendance or participation of anyone. Pagans also are mostly solitary. The focus of these religions is mostly on the development of the self, of the individual – not concerned with what other people believe or do. (That’s Christianity you’re thinking of, not Paganism or Satanism.) The sort of people who would try to force people into occult group are legend-trippers, not Satanists, Pagans or serious occultists, because for them, forced or coerced participation is worthless.

shows fascination with blood, especially human blood;

If this were really indicative of criminal activity then all aspiring medical, chemistry, biology, and phlebotomy students would be implicated. Now ‘fascination’ is being used to indicate potential wrong-doing, and belief is enough to turn someone into a potential criminal. The changing of ordinary mundane things into hysterical “indicators” and “warning signs” is indicative of a hysteria and a societal witch hunt. This was true for the Mc Carthyist era in the USA, for the “Rooi Gevaar” era in South Africa – as much as it is here and now in South Africa’s “satanic panic”.

In occult belief systems, blood plays a significant role. However, the uses for blood are to form a deeply personal connection with the magical ritual being performed, involve SMALL amounts, usually a few drops – and most typically the blood of the individual conducting his or her own private ritual – and do not involve harm upon themselves or another. However, conveniently, none of this is explained or addressed nor is any attempt made to differentiate this practice from any kind of legend-tripping behavior.

The use of this point seems more to be to connect the occultist or person who identifies with Satanism or even Paganism as a religion with some or other threatening behavior without actually coming out and saying it – something which appears to be a hallmark of this pamphlet as a whole.

speaks of killing or hurting animals or people;

Again, using hearsay to conduct a witch-hunt, the drafters ignore the facts: most teenagers – boys and girls will at some point in their lives express such desires against each other. The likelihood that they will ever act on these words however is very small. Again, this is a generalization aimed at linking the actions of legend-trippers in school environments to those who may express normal teenage feelings of rivalry and implying that people who identify with occult beliefs are dangerous and may cause harm to people or animals. The notion that occultists, Pagans and Satanists harm animals as part of religious practices is completely off the mark; it is the practice of legend-trippers to do so – since the belief that human or animal sacrifice is required as part of “satanism” is the message included in the propaganda distributed by the SAPS ORC and other evangelicalist Christian bodies.

speaks of attempts to cut herself/himself;

Typically this form of self-harm is indicative of an emotional trauma or psychological condition, not a recognized modern religious practice. Instead of being targeted for a witch hunt, children who indulge in self-harm should be helped with counseling, not categorized as potentially harmful cultists or subjected to religious indoctrination and other abuses. Here it is erroneously being linked to occult belief systems and used to alienate people from the idea that occult belief systems and practices could be anything other than abhorrent.

expresses deep hatred about someone and insists on getting rid of that person;

Again an attempt to use hearsay as a reason to suspect someone of a crime that most likely has not been committed, and probably never will be – and using a stereotype to portray people who identify with occult belief systems as likely to be dangerous and even violent. How many people are stupid enough to let people around them know that they are about to commit a crime? This point attempts to identify someone as a criminal where no crime has been committed. Non sequitur.

shows you strange signs and symbols.

This point is so vague that it is just plain stupid. In other words, just showing someone a sign or symbol, likely of religious significance with which the viewer is unfamiliar, is an indicator that the person is “being influenced by a harmful belief or religious practice”. Balderdash.

First of all, half of the signs and symbols commonly associated with “satanism” by these “occult experts” are of Christian origin and have nothing at all to do with religious Satanism or the occult – and the other half have no actual religious significance at all. A small percentage of symbols associated with occult beliefs are in fact part of their cultures – BUT, and this point needs to be stressed – they are typically misrepresented to the public by uneducated ignorant people presenting themselves as “experts in the occult” while having no qualifications to do so. Most of these “experts” have only worthless “doctorates” and other papers bought from offshore Christian colleges which are nothing more than diploma mills, meaning that while they have no personal experience earned within any occult religions, they draw on qualifications obtained from other religions to prop up their flimsy claims of being “experts” on religions they really know nothing at all about. Thus we have items presented to the public as “hexagrams” by “experts” whose credibility is as imaginary as their expertise.

Page 1, panel 1 (Left):

Factors to remember when you feel or are forced to participate:

You have the right to protect yourself from any form of abuse!

It should be interesting to see how this is true in practice for Pagans, Satanists and occultists in work and school environments dominated by Christian doctrine and ethos. it certainly doesn’t work for Pagans and occultists in South Africa who attempt to lodge complaints of abuse to the Press Ombudsman or the Human Rights Commission.

You have the right to refuse to participate in any religious activity that makes you feel unsafe.

Does this apply to children who do not wish to attend religious indoctrination sessions at Assembly or in religious instruction classes or school prayer sessions? Or is it only considered “threatening” when the child ventures into other belief systems not part of the school ethos?

You do not have to be a part of any form of religious belief if you do not like it.

They might as well add what is suggested by omission: ‘…but if you choose not to be a part of Christian practices in the school environment or your workplace, or exercise your right to choose another religion, you will face the consequences of prejudice and bigotry.’ – because in South Africa this is what happens – to child and adult alike.

Speak to someone you trust if you have questions or concerns on any suspicious practice. This person can be your priest, your parents or teacher, the Police or social worker.

Very good – but there is no mention of an imam or a rabbi or a priestess (or even a dominee, reverend or pastor for that matter). Just a “priest”. Anyway, the absence of diversity in this document pretty much indicates the target audience and the team for which the drafter (or the DoJ) are playing – Christian evangelicalists. Never mind the Hindus, the Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans, Satanists, atheists who happen to live here.

And yes, go speak to the Police about it – they will certainly give you a sympathetic ear when you identify as a Pagan or a Satanist or a student of the Occult.

You are not alone!

That has to be quite the oxymoron.

In Summary:

The absence of diversity represented in this document pretty much indicates the target audience and the team for which the drafter (or the DoJ) are playing – Christian evangelicalists seeking to oppress religious freedom by scapegoating religions for the acts of criminals living out the SRA myth created and disseminated by themselves.

This, coupled with the perpetual refusal to engage with community based organizations within oppressed minority religious beliefs in South Africa echoes the sentiments and policy of the SAPS’s ORC unit and its “total onslaught” policy towards people who identify with occult belief systems such as the numerous Pagan faiths in this country, as well as the various forms of Satanism.

This cloudy and somewhat increasingly hypothetical “public” they worry about so much is Christian, and the rainbow nation is surprisingly monochromatic, despite the diversity we hear so much about and see surrounding us. And the idea that South Africa and its Constitution is secular is anything other than a mere suggestion, a rumor – is a troubling bothersome headache that the government keeps on shifting to the right rather than facing it.

The document is vague and amid generalizations it speculates about what children should look out for without giving any realistic expectations.

The point of the pamphlet seems more to be to connect the occultist or person who identifies with Satanism or even Paganism as a religion with some or other threatening behavior or criminality without actually coming out and saying it directly – something which appears to be a hallmark of this pamphlet as a whole.

The pamphlet features terminology not explained at all within the context of the pamphlet. It also attempts to present this information as authoritative while twisting the interpretation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to suit an agenda seeking to oppress freedoms of religion, expression and belief as well as that of association – and attempts to cast suspicion upon those defending their use of these rights by suggesting that they are using them in order to hide criminal activity.

Additional to this, the drafters provide no external references, no citations of studies or facts of any kind or to provide some semblance of academic backing. No attempt was made even to refer to the fraudulent misrepresented “occult experts” in the SAPS ORC unit who cannot even tell the difference between a pentacle and a pentagram, or probably aren’t even aware that there is no such thing as a “hexagram”. It appears that the information provided is meant to be accepted at face value as truth and fact simply because it is published and distributed by the Department of Justice. It is an omission which proclaims: “These people and their beliefs and practices are bad, because we say so.”

Although this material features graphics, good layout and design as well as better grammar and spelling than the SAPS resource site it is sourced from – and is even more vague, if that is even possible – it is at its core simply the same old bullshit dressed up to look official in a way that suggests that perhaps they are hoping this will transmute manure into gold – or lies into truth.

%d bloggers like this: