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South African Jewish Board of Deputies Petitions Parliament Against Bill Seeking to Debar Non-christ

March 15, 1932
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A petition has been addressed to the South African Parliament by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, signed by its President, Mr. Kirsch Hillman, objecting to a Private Bill introduced into Parliament to change the name of the Potchefstroom University to that of Potchefstroom Christian University.

Hitherto, Mr. Hillman writes, it has been the policy of the Union, as laid down by the University Statutes, that its University Institutions should be of an undenominational character. It is hardly necessary to point out of what inestimable values this policy has been, and will be in the future, for it enables young people of different races and religious denominations to meet together in an academic atmosphere, to form friendships and to discuss the problems of life without rancour or bitterness or prejudice.

Your pettioner respectfully refers to Section 15 of Act No. 20 of 1917 which provides as follows: “No test of religious belief shall be imposed on any person as a condition of his becoming or continuing to be a professor, lecturer, teacher or student of or of holding any office or emolument or exercising any privilege in any college, nor shall any preference be given to or advantage be withheld from any person on the ground of his religious belief”.

The Potchefstroom University College is to-day an integral part of the Union’s University system as a Constituent College of the University of South Africa. The major portion of its funds is provided by a Government grant, to which your petitioner has no objection as long as the Institution remains undenominational in name and in fact. The change of name which the Potchefstroom University College desires to achieve will effect in reality a departure from the present policy of undenominational University Institutions. The result of it will be that non-Christian students will in effect be debarred from joining the College by reason of its name.

Moreover, once the principle of sectarianism in University institutions has been acknowledege by Parliament, other denominations may wish to have similar institutions for themselves to the detriment of the non-Christian citizens of the Union (including Jewish citizens) who will then in common with Christian citizens be taxed to pay for the grants of such Institutions.

Your petitioner therefore feels and humbly submits that it will not be in the best interests of the country to allow the proposed change of name to be effected.

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