Newswire, October 30, 2000

By Omar C. Jadwat (

CAPE TOWN October 30 2000 Sapa

The Democratic Alliance's controversial mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Peter Marais, has refused to back down on a statement that Christians must choose between the Constitution and the Bible.

Marais, who is also the Western Cape MEC for social services, said at an official function in Mossel Bay at the weekend that the Constitution was "written by Communists under the cloak of democracy".

He also said it clashed with the Bible on the issues of abortion and corporal punishment of children.

"Christians must choose between the Constitution and the Bible," he reportedly said.

In a statement issued through a spokesman on Monday, he said that while he respected the Constitution, confessing Christians such as himself could never hold it in higher esteem than the Bible.

"The Constitution gives particular choices to individuals, which Peter Marais respects," the spokesman said. "But when it comes to exercising these choices, then the truth as set out in the Bible is what he has to respect."

The Dutch Reformed Church's director for information, Dr Willie Botha, said corporal punishment was not a good issue for Marais to use as an example of clashes between Bible and Constitution, because although the Bible was all for discipline, it was also against assault, and talked of love and tenderness.

"I appreciate it that politicians mention the Bible, because I think that shows that Christianity is still relevant. But on the other hand I would caution against misusing the Bible to score political points.

"I don't say this is what (Marais) is doing, but I would just caution against that possibility."

He said that although Christians would appreciate a Constitution that accorded with biblical principles, it was a document meant to run a country which contained other faiths as well.

"We must remember that we live in a country with religious freedom... they didn't write the Constitution out of the Bible," he said.

President of the Apostolic Faith Mission Dr Isak Burger said that though there were aspects on which he could agree with Marais, one should always ask what impression it created among ordinary citizens if a politician used Christian arguments for political ends.

"I don't say this is the case (with Marais) ... but one wonders whether it is the case," he said. "He knows whether his motives are honest before God."

Burger also said it was "a bit far fetched" to argue that Christians had to choose between the Constitution and the Bible.

Although the Constitution was based on humanist rather than Christian values, and induced a liefestyle that promoted immoral value systems, he could not say it stopped him from being a Christian.

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