Church apologises to gay music teacher

The Moreleta Park NG Kerk in Pretoria has apologised to a gay music teacher that it fired over his homosexuality.

The church has also decided not to appeal against the Pretoria High Court ruling ordering that it apologise and pay compensation to Johan Strydom, it said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Moreleta Park church decided at a special meeting that was held on Tuesday September 9 not to appeal against the court verdict on the Strydom case,” it said.

“We offer our unconditional apology to Mr Strydom for the fact that we, according to the court, unfairly discriminated against him by ending his services.”

In a ruling last month, Pretoria High Court Judge Dion Basson ordered the Moreleta Park congregation to pay Strydom damages of R87 000 and to unconditionally apologise to him for its conduct.

Strydom’s contract was terminated three years ago on the basis that he was involved in a homosexual relationship.

The congregation listed five reasons for its decision not to appeal, including that “the fundamental right of the church to freely believe in the Bible was not violated” and that “the congregation’s belief that being in a homosexual relationship is a sin was not rejected by the court”.

It further said that the “congregation had enough opportunity to testify on the Bible’s view on the dangers of homosexuality”.

“The congregation had the wonderful opportunity to tell the world about God’s love for all people, including those who are in homosexual relationships.”

However, it disagreed with the court’s finding that Strydom was not a spiritual leader and that, therefore, the church’s rules for its leaders did not apply to him.

“According to the congregation’s judgement, Mr Strydom was in the position of a spiritual leader and role model for young students, and that means that he should be subject to the congregation’s policy on leaders.

“However, we will abide ourselves by the authority of the court.”—Sapa

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