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For: Die Burger

Right of Reply to “Die Bybelsmokkelaar se agenda”

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From the very first paragraph of “Die Bybelsmokkelaar se Agenda” (Die Burger – 15/02/02), correspondent Johan van Zyl showed that this was not going to be an objective article, dealing with the issues, but rather a personal attack upon myself.

“Die Bybelsmokkelaar se Agenda” is packed full with sarcastic and prejudiced comments, which have absolutely nothing to do with anything. The article also contains many inaccuracies. Despite what Johan van Zyl states in his article, I was not born in Zimbabwe, nor was my arrest in Zambia in 1987 for “illegally entering the country”. I still have the visa stamps in my passport of the time from the Zambian Immigration officials. The Government of Zambia later apologised for detaining us without any charge.

Nor do I know where your reporter got the impression from that I’ve used a Honda 250cc motorbike to ride to Sudan!! Anyone who knows anything about motorbikes, and basic geography, should know that it would be an exceedingly time-consuming exercise to attempt to ride the 7000 km’s from Cape Town to Sudan on a 250cc motorbike!

The article ignores the facts presented in our new book “The Pink Agenda – Sexual Revolution in South Africa and the Ruin of the Family and chooses instead to attack the person. Rather than objectively dealing with the issues, van Zyl goes overboard in emotive subjectivism. He accuses our book of being selective and inaccurate. Yet, he fails to point out any specific inaccuracies in the book. However, this article “Die Bybelsmokkelaar se Agenda” is itself an excellent example of selective and inaccurate reporting.

Not content with misquoting and mistranslating what I said in the 2-hour interview, your journalist even descended to putting words in my mouth and inventing and inserting comments which I never made. Van Zyl claims that I will not debate. However, I have regularly engaged in debates at public meetings and on radio, and in fact enjoy a good debate. (It is van Zyl who would not debate. Throughout the interview, he gave the impression of agreeing with my observations of how inconsistent the Film & Publications Board ruling was, how hypocritical the calls for censorship from the homosexual lobby have been, etc.) The whole purpose of our book is to encourage open discussion and debate on the subject. However, instead of openly discussing and debating his point of view with me, face to face, your correspondent has chosen rather to engage in deception and publishing character assassination.

I am accused of having smuggled weapons of war in the conflict areas where we have been engaged in Bible distribution, medical, evangelistic and relief ministries. This is completely unsubstantiated slander. Over the last 20 years of serving suffering people in restricted access areas, I’ve smuggled in hundreds of thousands of Bibles and Christian books, and many tonnes of medicines, agricultural and educational materials - never weapons of war.

Van Zyl’s allegation that United Christian Action, of which we are members, and of which I have been an office bearer, was a secret project of the former government is a blatant fabrication and slander. The Truth & Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, Volume two, Chapter six is entitled “Special Investigation into Secret State Funding”. It deals exhaustively with the former government’s secret projects, naming the projects of the defence force, foreign affairs, the police, national intelligence and the education department. Nowhere does United Christian Action appear.

Furthermore, Van Zyl did not discuss this matter with me. Had he done so, I would have been in a position to clarify it. Mr van Zyl needs to either substantiate his accusation with some specific evidence, or he must publicly retract this slander. 

My co-author, Christine McCafferty, and myself are accused of hate speech in our book - The Pink Agenda. Yet the book specifically takes a stand against violence and mistreatment of people engaged in homosexuality, and encourages Christians to reach out in Christian love to homosexuals in their community. The last article of the book is from a former homosexual who came to Christ, and who is a good friend of ours.

I am described as being “a supporter” of resistance movements, such as Unita and Renamo. However, there is a huge difference between a missionary who evangelises amongst a resistance movement, and a supporter of those guerilla armies.

Not that this has anything whatsoever to do with the book in question – The Pink Agenda. One wonders what Johan van Zyl’s agenda is? And where he is coming from, when he can describe pro-family groups such as Focus on the Family, The Family Research Council and The Promise Keepers as “the most radical leaders of right-wing, religious groups …” If peaceful, pro-family, pro-life ministries that encourage men to be faithful to their wives, and to be devoted to their children, can be described as “the most radical”, then I think it’s time Die Burger purchased a dictionary for your correspondent.

Van Zyl puts words in my mouth concerning Promise Keepers – “goddelike weermag” and “geestelike oorlogvoering”. I’ve never used these terms concerning Promise Keepers, and I never discussed anything of the sort during this interview. Another complete fabrication of van Zyl’s was the quote attributed to me: “Suid I do not believe that, and I’ve never said that. Not during this interview, nor at any other occasion.

The last two paragraphs of the article placed in quotes attributed to me are such a jumble of selected misquotes, that they bear no resemblance to what was actually said. One expects journalists, like any other people, to reflect their biases and preferences with what they select to report about, and how. What one does not expect is complete fabrications and inventing and inserting in quote marks comments never made.

Van Zyl attributes to me a quote in which I said that it doesn’t matter what people do in their own bedrooms. What I actually said was: ”what two people do alone behind closed doors is between them and God – and that is no small matter – but it is not a matter for the state. However, what is taught in the public schools is a public concern”.

When I described our mission as “multi-racial”, van Zyl misquoted it as “multi-cultural”. That is not the same thing. When I pointed out that the vast majority of the population of Cape Town have not been consulted and would not support Cape Town being marketed as “the premier gay tourist destination in Africa”, your correspondent inserted the word “God-fearing” although I never used that word.

Van Zyl quotes me as saying that I am “proud” of our achievements, although I never used that word either. I said: “we are encouraged by the lives saved through our pro-life activities and by the store owners who have responded to our campaign to take pornography off the shelves”.

The vast majority of the readers of Die Burger are Christians who would oppose the radical homosexual agenda, and who would be sympathetic and supportive of the pro-life and pro-family stands made by Focus on the Family, The Promise Keepers and Africa Christian Action. Do the staff of Die Burger really want to antagonise and insult their Christian readers with this kind of sorry excuse for journalism?

Instead of attacking the person, it would be more appropriate if somebody actually read and reviewed the book – The Pink Agenda – Sexual Revolution in South Africa and the Ruin of the Family”.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Peter Hammond

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The Biblical Response to Slander

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