Lyn's blog

A Harmful Text on Love?

I am very involved with the international "Thursdays in Black" campaign. In February 2019, Valentine's Day was on a Thursday, and the World Council of Churches invited #ThursdaysinBlack reflections on a well-known scripture on Love. This reflection was published on the blog of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace on the 11th of February 2019:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NRSV)

This is possibly the text most often used in wedding celebrations and familiar to all of us.

It is often held forth as a romantic ideal and it seems as if this should indeed be our dream – to be patient and kind, not to be envious, boastful, arrogant or rude, not to want your own way, not to be irritable or resentful, to celebrate the truth.

I am sure that marriage preparation classes and counsellors would be happy to promote these thoughts!

But could it be that this text is actually harmful?

It is to the last part of the well-known verse that I would like to turn our focus:

“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (NRSV)

Too many times I have heard women (and their pastors!) quote this text in ways that are harmful and life-limiting:

“Yes, he abuses me, but you know, the Bible says I must bear all things”

“There are many signs that he is cheating and exposing me to HIV, but he says that he is faithful and I should believe all thing in love.”

“Things are very bad, he hurts me badly, but I hope and pray for something to change.”

“The pastor says that as a woman of Faith I have a responsibility to stay with him, even though he abuses me and the children.”

And even:

“My father/pastor/teacher rapes me, but my family says that I should just endure it and not bring disgrace on our family/church/school.”

This can never be the message that Paul wanted to send to the Corinthians or to those of us who read this today!

The very first book of the Bible establishes the position of human beings as ‘created in the image of God’ (Gen1:27) and particularly emphasises that both male and female were created in God’s image. How can we expect that the image of God should remain in a situation of abuse and destruction?

No! There are as many texts that reminds us that this is not what God dreams for us. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NRSV)

An abundant life cannot be to sentence people to a life lived in abuse and pain. As people of faith - individuals, churches, faith communities and faith-based organisations - we can not just say that people in abusive relationships should “bear all things, hope all things, endure all things”.

We have a different responsibility: A responsibility to guide and support people who are victims of abuse to become survivors and victors, to live their lives abundantly - physically, emotionally and spirituality! A responsibility to speak out against abuse. A responsibility to challenge unhealthy use of Sacred Texts.

A small part of this responsibility is also to create an awareness of abuse. So, on Valentine’s Day, like every other Thursday, I will wear black as part of the international #ThursdaysinBlack Campaign, towards a world without rape and violence. Because I believe a different reality is possible.

NGO Types And Registrations

Last week we discussed different organisational forms.  This week we will spend more time specifically on NGOs. 

There are many different definitions of and viewpoints on NGOs.  To start with, let's look at three definitions;

“A NGO is a non-profit, citizen-based group that functions independently of government. NGOs, sometimes called civil societies, are organized on community, national and international levels to serve specific social or political purposes, and are cooperative, rather than commercial, in nature.” 1

“… a not-for-profit organization that is independent from states and international governmental organizations. They are usually funded by donations but some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers.”2

“… any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level.”3

In South Africa, the term NPO is the formal term used when referring to organisations that have a not-for-profit motive. One of the reasons for using NPO is that the South African Government created a number of organisations that function as “NGOs” but with government support. Internationally and in general discussions however, the abbreviation NGO (non-government-organisation) is used when referring to such organisations. The South African use of the term NPO does create some confusion, as there is also a formal South African NPO registration.

As the purpose of NGOs is usually described as “doing good”, “addressing a community need” or “not doing things for the money”, it is commonly thought that NGOs do not have to adhere to the same rules, regulations, standards and modes of functioning that a for-profit company should. This is incorrect! You are

In South Africa, there are three acts governing the functioning of organisations that operate with a not for profit objective. These acts are;

§  The Companies Act (Act No. 61 of 1973 as amended) regulates an organisation referred to as a Not for Profit Company (NPC).

§  Trust Property Control Act (ActNo. 57 of 1988) regulates the functioning of trusts. 

§  The Non-profit organisations Act (Act No. 71 of 1997)which further regulates not for profit trusts and voluntary organisations.

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Registration with Department of Social Development
If certain conditions are met, any form of NGO, whether it a Trust, Voluntary Association or NPC, may register as a NPO (Not for Profit organisation) with the Department of Social Development.Registration under the Not for Profit organisations Act 71 of 1997 is not mandatory, nor is it a precondition for the legal existence of any organisation. However, there are certain benefits to registering as an NPO. including:

§ Any NGO applying for government funding must be registered in terms of the NPO Act.

§  Only registered NGOs are eligible to become grant recipients of the National Lotteries Commission, the National Development Agency (NDA), the Independent Development Trust (IDT), local and provincial authorities, and various other public and private fundingagencies.

§ Registration as an NPO improves the credibility and funding opportunities of the NPO.

§  It is easier for a registered organisation to open a bank account and comply to FICA (Financial Intelligence Centre Act(38 of 2001) criteria.

§ Registering as NPO allows the organisation to apply for, and possibly obtain, tax incentives.

The Certificate of Registration serves as proof of the legal existence of theorganisation.

Next week we will discuss registration as apublic benefit organisation (PBO) with the South AfricanRevenue Services (SARS) in terms of section 30(1) of the Income Tax, No 58 of 1962 and the implications of Sec 18A.

  1. http://www.investopedia.com
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org
  3. www.ngo.org
  4. FHI360 and USAID (2017) CDS Capacity Strengthening For Organisational Development Curriculum. Governance - Participant Workbook

What is in a Name?

There seems to be a common perception that the type of business a person starts or manages is really not that critical. 

During our training on Governance and Fundamentals of Business we often meet board members that apparently do not know the registration structures and implications of different organisational forms. 

We have also met a number of unhappy people! People that took their provident fund payments to start a small “business” such as a day care centre.  For a period of time they then receive payment for their services, buy equipment and perhaps even solicit donations to help people that cannot afford it.  The problem comes when they feel they are ready to retire and try and sell the “business”. That is when they find out they did not register the business correctly, or even worse, registered it as the wrong form of organisation.

The news in South Africa is increasingly filled with reports about state owned enterprises and their performance (or lack thereof). ESCOM, SABC, SAA, Denel and others fill our minds. Interestingly the enterprises we hear about most often is only one form of the six different classifications of state-owned enterprises. It is important to note that while there are similarities, there are some legal differences between a state-owned enterprise and other businesses. 

The levels of corruption and inequality in for-profit entities also reach the news. Steinhoff, VBS … the list continues.

When we evaluate all of this, it is important that we understand what type of organisation it is, how it is registered, and which laws govern its management and function. 

Governancecomprises systems and processes to ensure the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of all people in an organisation. Governance is also typically the responsibility of the board of directors – although not exclusively so. Board authority and management systems comes from and are influenced by the organization’s registration under a country’s relevant laws. It is these laws that sets out the duties and responsibilities of boards and leaders and determines how a business may or may not operate.

This week in the reflection (download below) we take a look at different forms or organisations, and highlight some key factors of organisations commonly known as Non-Governmental organisations (NGO’s) or as they are referred to in laws, Not-for-Profit organisations (NPO’s).

In future discussions we will look at some of the factors in greater detail.