The following article is written by Philip Olivier.
Who Is Turning Tide and Who Is Philip Olivier?
I am a 36-year-old male who was called to do the work of God and pursued a career as a Minister of the Church. On the 18th of November 2014 I was dismissed from my position of Minister in the Afrikaanse Protestant Church of Groblersdal due to trumped up charges, boiling down to the fact that because I am gay I am not suitable to be a minister in the Church. The following publications released these articles in the press and give you a good overview.
Why I am taking the church to court?
After I was fired I dealt with a range of emotions: anger, hurt, denial even depression. To be a minister isn’t a job, it is a calling. When I was stripped of my title and position, I lost more than just a job. I lost a lifetime of dreams, my meaning in society was shaken and I lost a community of support.
I decided not to do as countless others have done by turning a blind eye to the obvious injustice that has been served. I decided to fight the life sentence I was dealt by the Afrikaanse Protestantse Church. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it a challenge? Yes. It is impossible? No. Because in Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus sends out his disciples with a specific calling, "Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." Jesus never said be my Judges or Executioners but be my disciples. When he said teach them, he never meant that we should go out and destroy people's lives or futures, He said teach them to love one another. This is where the church in 2016 falls short.
I approached the CCMA and a hearing was scheduled on the 8th of January 2015 whereby the CCMA decided that the matter should be heard in court. The church refused to discuss any settlement. I needed to get representation, after talking to a few friends of mine I got the phone number of a Labour Lawyer in Centurion, we scheduled a meeting and started the long legal journey.
My first battle started immediately after I was fired when I requested the church release my Pension Fund. This proved to be a huge battle. At that stage I still had an outstanding student amount or R80 000 which, while working for the church in Groblersdal, I had an arrangement for paying this amount. However, I had financial difficulties following debt incurred due to my younger brother’s death and I was unable to meet the arrangement.
The church decided that they wanted to take my pension fund to meet the outstanding amount. They did not offer me any relief funding. All I only had was one month’s salary. After I was told to vacate the home I was living in, I had no other choice but to sell all my belongings in Groblersdal and relocate to Cape Town to my family with what I could fit into a trailer and my brother’s car.
I decided to tell the world my story after I received a donation of R 70 000 to help me to fight the decision taken by the church. These funds were used to appoint an advocate to handle the case.
Unfortunately, our Advocate decided after 6 months that he had too much on his plate and we were forced to seek new representation, costing us R 40 000. However, with Advocate Annamarie de Vos at the helm, we are confident that we are now in excellent hands. However, each day that passes, each week, each month, each letter that is sent to the attorney costs money.
After 2 years of waiting we have finally received our first official court date: 19 August 2016. While this is a victory in itself, due to the fact that the case has stretched out over 2 years, funds are at an all-time low and the situation is not only dire but immediate. In addition to this, due to the fact that we only have a 90-day period granted by the CCMA, we have to apply for a further extension. Every application costs money.
We need R 30 000 for this first appearance on the 19th of August 2016. The next step is to proceed to court, which is a further R50 000. We are so close yet so far. If I am unable to raise the funds needed, I will be forced to let the matter rest and all of the waiting, all of the fighting will have been for nothing. We need to ask the public to help us by donating to our cause.
Should we be successful in taking this matter to court, I expect to be reimbursed for all the losses I suffered over the past 2 years going due to losing my livelihood. The day I was fired I lost all ability to generate an income, the church blacklisted me as a minister ensuring that I will never again be able to join a church or to preach the gospel in any Dutch Reformed Church. All of my document of accreditation has been recalled making it hard to apply for any ministerial work, this I discovered when applying to be a Chaplin for the Police and Defence Force.
How can you help me change history?
We not only need to pursue the LGBT agenda in South Africa, but we need to expose churches who feel that they are above the law. We want to see equal rights in South Africa, especially in the work place.
Philip Olivier 0766680126
Please note that the views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Triarc.