Letter to the Chancellor - University Pretoria PDF Print E-mail

 

The Chancellor
University of Pretoria
0002
Pretoria

Fax: 012-362-5168

To the University of Pretoria

22 July 2005

Dear Friends

Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Over the last 20 years Frontline Fellowship has had the privilege of participating in ministry on the University of Pretoria campus and it has often also been our privilege to attend your Missions Weeks. I first visited and spoke on the UP Campus in 1985.

I am sincerely sorry for all the strife and stress which you must be going through over the incident of Muslim students protesting about our missions display. It is an unfortunate sign of our times that intolerance lures its head even on university campuses which are meant to be bastions of free speech.

I have been a missionary for 26 years, much of which has been focused on the Muslim world. I have come under artillery, rocket and aerial bombardments from Islamic forces, even while preaching in churches in Sudan. The Frontline Fellowship mission base in Sudan was bombed ten times by the Sudan Air Force. Just last week I received a death threat from a Muslim group because of an article I wrote in response to Islamic attacks on Christianity. So we can understand something of what you must be going through, and I want to assure you of our sincere prayer support.

As we understand it, the central issues here are freedom of speech on the university campus and freedom of religion at a Missions Week.

Muslim states are the primary persecutors of Christians worldwide. Literally hundreds of thousands of Christians are killed every year at the hands of Muslim regimes and Muslim mobs. I have personally witnessed, and documented this violence against Christians by Muslim mobs in Northern Nigeria, and in Southern Sudan from the National Islamic Front Government.

By God’s grace, I have been involved in organising committees for missions conferences since the Students Consultation on Frontier Missions in 1982. We cannot have any group of students – Muslim or otherwise – interfering with the composition of a Missions Conference. I have never heard of Christians seeking to dictate what could transpire on the University of Mecca or Cairo, or what publications were acceptable for the Islamic Propagation Centre International to distribute. Nor have I ever heard of Christians threatening Muslims and preventing the free exercise of their religion within areas where Christians are the majority. However, we do know that no Christian missionaries are allowed in Saudi Arabia. Nor is there a single church or Christian citizen allowed in Saudi Arabia.

Universities are meant to be places of critical investigation, a free market place of ideas. If freedom of speech cannot be effectively protected on a university campus, what future is there for higher education? Higher education requires critical thinking, dissent, disagreement and open debate – without threats of violence and interfering with the freedom of others.

It is extremely disturbing that the freedom of conscience, belief and opinion of Christians even at a Christian Missions Week can be interfered with by the threats and intimidation of a few intolerant students.

If we do not have the courage to stand up for the truth of the Christian faith, against the deception and violence of militant Islam, at a Christian Missions Week at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa, how are we going to fulfil the Great Commission within the Muslim Middle East? If the TUKS Missions Committee can be intimidated into withdrawing the invitation of a mission to Muslims at a UP Missions Week, what is to stop Muslim groups being encouraged to intimidate similar missions committees at other university campuses?

If literature and missions deemed controversial and offensive to Muslims can be withdrawn under pressure, should Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Atheist, and other assorted non-Christian groups also take heart that if they exert sufficient pressure, and threats, that material and missions considered offensive to them could also be withdrawn?

Could we reach a stage where such compromise and fear of violence would exclude most of the effective missions and ministries from future Missions Weeks because aspects or elements of their ministry are deemed offensive by some? What about books in the university library deemed controversial or offensive?

The South African Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, belief and opinion.

Where do we draw the line? Where will this kind of accommodation end?

May the Lord continue to bless, guide and strengthen each one of the faculty of the University of Pretoria.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Peter Hammond

Director

 
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