JOHANNESBURG (Mar. 2)
Steps taken by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies to defend the “conscience clause” in the statute of the Orange Free State University, which university officials are seeking to have eliminated in part, were reported at the monthly meeting of the Board.
The conscience clause is a provision in South African university legislation which bars religious discrimination in staff appointments or student admissions. The Orange Free State University seeks to have the portion relating to staff appointments nullified.
Arthur Suzman, chairman of the Board’s public relations committee, reported that the university had tried at its inception to omit the conscience clause but the South African Parliament had insisted on inclusion of the clause in the university’s enabling act. The university introduced a bill at the current session of Parliament to obtain the partial nullification.
The Board of Deputies sent all MP’s a detailed memorandum on the issue which stressed the case for retention of the full clause, Mr. Suzman noted. He told the Board that no special position was being claimed for the Jews because non-Protestant Christians would be equally affected.
He said that the Board’s stand was based on the principle of maintaining South Africa’s tradition of religious non-discrimination. He added that the bill was not a Government measure and each deputy was free to vote his convictions, and that he hoped the principle would prevail. Members of the Board unanimously endorsed this stand of the Board’s executive.