Article source: JOY! Magazine

A video of Shaun Christie, the student who took a bold stand at an orientation session at the North-West University (NWU), has gone viral. “I’m saying what everyone is too afraid to say…” Shaun, the final year law student, said in the video.

Vast majority of students walked out
Christie objected that first year students were “compelled to sit and listen to beliefs being forced upon them during their orientation programme”. Shortly after, the vast majority of the students walked out in solidarity with Christie (to loud jeering from those who stayed behind).

What was his objection?
According to AfriForum Youth, Christie is said to have openly objected to the content that was discussed during an orientation event. During the sessions, among other things, LGBT+ rights were discussed. Christie is said to have criticised and argued that students do not feel safe talking about Christianity, but that discussions about gender issues are allowed. According to Ronald Peters, spokesperson for AfriForum Youth, the organisation emphasises that students may not be prevented from expressing their opinion if they do not agree with certain positions or activities on campus. This case goes to the heart of freedom of expression, a constitutional right that must be protected in all democratic societies.

NWU denies the claims
A spokesperson for NWU, Louis Jacobs, said that various topics were discussed during the session in question, including mental and psychological fitness, rights of persons living with disabilities, LGBT+ community matters, and environmental sustainability awareness. According to Jacobs, other organisations are allowed to set up stalls on campus during this period. “Apart from academic sessions, no student is required to attend any other session,” he said.

Compulsory or not?
And yet, according to the ACDP, “opposing students maintain that the presentation imposed an offensive ideological standpoint that conflicts with their religious convictions. They believed it was academically irrelevant and that they were deprived the chance to talk about Jesus or the choice to decide whether or not to participate in the session of gender ideology.” If the students were free to choose, why did they attend something they clearly did not want to attend? Either they were ill-informed (something NWU should rectify), felt social pressure to do so, or it was indeed compulsory.

Watershed disciplinary case
This is exactly why this case is so important. Peters emphasised that this will be a watershed case as up until now, students have been reluctant to take a strong stand for fear that they will not be allowed to continue with their studies. The outcome of this case will not only have consequences for Christie, but for Christian students nationwide as well as Christian voices in our society.

Christian political parties join the conversation
#Hope4SA, a new Christian political party, said in a press release, “We stand in solidarity with Shaun Christie … who recently faced suspension for bravely defending his right to free speech … It is disheartening to witness a situation where students, the beacons of the future, face consequences for exercising one of the fundamental tenets of democracy.” The ACDP also came out in support, “We want to affirm our support for Mr Christie, who chose to boldly exercise his right to freedom of belief, religion, and association, and to stand with students who felt the same as him – the majority of whom walked out of the orientation session after he spoke up for them.”

Agenda that wants to erode Christian values
The president of #Hope4SA, John Mathuhle, said, “There is an agenda in this country that seeks to erode our traditional values as Christians. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we do not stand now, we will have nothing to stand for in the future.”

Suspension temporarily lifted
Although Christie was temporarily suspended, the ban has been partially lifted and he can now attend classes and write exams. He must, however, report to campus protection services every time he enters the campus and, according to Peters, the student may not participate in or attend any public events on campus.

“If someone like me does not stand up against these injustices, who will? It is time for students to stand up for what is right and not remain silent because they are afraid of the power-obsessed higher authorities. TO BE CLEAR, we are not against any organisation, culture group, or the LGBT+ community. We are standing for freedom! The freedom to choose what we believe and what we will listen to. We will not tolerate any agendas to be forced upon us against our will.” – Shaun Christie

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Date published: 08/02/2024

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  1. Well done Shaun. You had the courage to do what we all should do. Reject this nonsense and not let them silence us as long a we have a voice to speak for the truth. People are free to live in sin, although we would wish them to repent and turn to God and receive eternal live through the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. But we won’t let them force their believes on us nor on the children of our country. may the Lord bles you, even as you face persecution. We should not be surprised, but are we prepared to come out of our comfort zone and fight the good fight of faith. Thank you.


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