South African Judge Chickens Out on Ruling in Fired Lesbian Pastor Case

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 5.31.53 AMToday Judge Veldhuizen ruled- or should we say barely ruled  in the case of fired Pastor Ecclesia de Lange. See our earlier articles here.

The lesbian minister who was fired because of her marriage to another woman has lost her court battle to be reinstated by the Methodist Church, but the case has been reverted back to arbitration.

While Judge Anton Veldhuizen dismissed Ecclesia de Lange’s application with legal costs in the Western Cape High Court, finding that it was “premature”, he said the dispute should first go for arbitration.

Ordained as a minister of the church in 2006, De Lange, 43, was suspended in December 2009, a few days after making an announcement to one of the church’s congregations about her intended marriage to her partner.

Following a disciplinary hearing, she was suspended until such time as the Methodist Church of Southern Africa made a binding decision on ministers in same-sex unions.

She was subsequently “discontinued” from the ministry, according to the church.

The church has been deliberating on the issue of gay marriage for 13 years and is yet to make a decision.

In a nutshell and in summary:
1. Application to High Court is premature
2. Matter referred back to arbitration
3. Matter dismissed with costs

A feeling of betrayal seemed to overwhelm the Ecclesia de Lange supporters in court today, particularly because of the second point two above. The flawed and unfair precedent set in the original arbitration, along with the unrealistic delays by the MCSA means another long and uphill battle for Ecclesia if she follows that route. The chances of getting an unbiased arbitrator, of fair representation, of reasonable time allocations and more are all to be considered.

Organizers of the de Lange campaign Mike Luppnow commented: “Friends, on a personal note, be encouraged. As activists of this cause we planned in anticipation of such an outcome and will return to strategis\ze the way ahead. One thing remains clear: we will not and could not walk another step without your support of love and resources, encouragement and wisdom. Stay connected!”

Please stay tuned.

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46 Comments on “South African Judge Chickens Out on Ruling in Fired Lesbian Pastor Case”

  1. Terence Grant January 26, 2014 at 11:31 PM #

    I think it is a flawed argument to argue that the decision to review the rules means that there are no longer any rules;that one is temporarily free to do as one pleases and to do so even if one is expressly ordered not rock the boat.Commonsense tells us that the current set of rules must remain in force until they are replaced by a new set of laws.

  2. Terence Grant January 26, 2014 at 11:48 PM #

    Commonsense also tells us that homosexual sex is prohibited by a blanket-ban on fornication/recreational sex.To argue that the church can frown on recreational sex between people of the opposite sex but cannot frown on recreational sex between people of the same sex is absurd.Pierre de Vos and his sister should stop wasting this pastors time and money.

    • Melanie Nathan January 27, 2014 at 9:42 AM #

      1. The Church frowns on gays getting married and having a life together but does not frown on straights getting married and having a life together. We arer NOT talking about the ACT of sex!! We are talking about the right to love. And there is a marked difference in how the church treats gays compared to straights,. There is a lot more to it. Of course she must keep fighting for these rights. Why should gay people be treated differently? Can you address that? Besides what blanket ban? What is recreational sex? Are you honestly suggesting that all straight people have sex just to procreate and not for fun – recreation? and if they are doing that why are they not fired from work because of it?

  3. Terence Grant January 27, 2014 at 11:06 AM #

    Church condemns heterosexual fornication as well as homosexual fornication,going so far as to say that a husband may not have sex with his wife when she is menstruating and also that masturbation is a sin.Fact that the church’s stance is ludicrous/antiquated does not mean that it is discriminating against gays/singling them out .

    • Melanie Nathan January 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM #

      YES it does in the context of this article. This person was fired because she married her same-sex partner!!! Show me the starigh guy who was fired for marrying his wife? THAT my friend is flagrant discrimination. This is not about the sex life of couples, its about the right to get into a legally binding civil relationship that enables legal rights and duties and should ahve nothing to do with the Church, yet they fired the gay person and not any straight people for marrying. Get with it and READ

  4. Terence Grant January 28, 2014 at 6:10 AM #

    You do not seem to understand that marriage is inextricably linked to the act of sex/procreation,with the church traditionally annulling any marriage that is not consummated.Consequently,the church cannot condone a marriage that is set up for the idea of having a platonic relationship.Secondly,a pastor is Gods ambassador and the church therefore is entitled to insist that he/she reflects the church’s core values.It would be highly naive to assume that the fact that the janitor drinks alcohol openly means that it cannot prohibit its officials from consuming alcohol

    • Melanie Nathan January 28, 2014 at 7:23 AM #

      And you Terrence Grant FAIL to understand that marriage under the law is a civil institution and quite separate from the church – it is one that conveys rights and duties – taxes repercussions, support obligations, custody rights and all such matters are covered by the Civil Court system which does not give a continental rats arse about your church!! Secondly what YOU fail to understand Grant is that there are a gazzilion religions in this world and some who dont belong to religion – and ALL have the right to practice what they believe under a very basic right called FREEDOM OF RELIGION – and that means your view and what you think your church says is only a tiny drop in the ocean of beliefs and freedoms…. THAT said -don’t speak as if there is one perspective – its naive and unjust. AND that said the lesbian in this story married not in the church but under the civil law and in terms of her constitutional and legal rights. She should not have been fired by the Church for that and if she was then the Church should be dragged through the courts and taken to task and the courts should have the courage to make the decision. VERY VERY simple no Einstein needed here.

  5. Terence Grant January 28, 2014 at 8:48 AM #

    You need to understand A)that I am an agnostic who leans heavily toward atheism and B) that the methodist church has every bit as much right to forbid its pastors from fornicating as the catholic church has to forbid its priests from marrying (and to regard a gay marriage as prima facie evidence of fornication).The fact that one usually has the right to marry does not mean that the catholic has to let its priests marry….Having said that the church would anyway be entitled to decide that homosexuality is wrong and that it is not willing to employ homosexual pastors.What led De Vos and his sister to believe they had a chance was the argumentthat the church had agreed to take another look at its stance and that the rules were no longer valid etc

    • Melanie Nathan January 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM #

      Well the rules of this Chruch are not about marriage in general. They do not ban CIVIL marriage for straights – so they are being discriminatory banning CIVIL MARRIAGE for Gays. vast difference to the Catholic priest example. And no one is asking the Church to marry them. Their marriage outside of the Church under the civil law is an issue that Church has not right to fire someone for. Unless they fire straight people for marrying too! No special rights here buddy – just accepting the basic constitutional right to marry. If a Church cannot accept the separation of State and civil laws from its Canons perhaps they should go operate in a country without a fully inclusive constit. – and leave SA the hell alone!

  6. Terence Grant January 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM #

    The fact that people are usually allowed to marry does not prevent the catholic church from prohibiting its priest from marrying,which I mention in order to illustrate that people who represent the church are not governed by the same set of rules as other employees such as janitors and organists.Indeed, the church is well within its rights to demand that it ambassadors refrain from fornication/recreational sex/masturbation. and to rid itself of any pastor that makes it clear that he/or she sees nothing wrong with fornication/recreational sex./masturbation.The fact that this prohibition on fornication weighs more heavily on gays than on straights does not make it discriminatory

    • Melanie Nathan January 28, 2014 at 5:56 PM #

      So who os talking about fornication and recreational sex – ? Only you! I am talking about marriage… CIVIL LAW MARRIAGE and the lesbian getting marries does not hurt the Church, unless the Church hates lesbioans and does not want them in the Church! AH so thats the bottom line right? Your argument makes no sense Terrence.

      • Terence Grant January 28, 2014 at 9:52 PM #

        My argument is that this pastor in entering into a same sex marriage is ,on the face of things ADVERTISING that she is FORNICATING ,,which while not conflicting with your and my morals conflicts with the Church’s morals.Simply put,if the church demands that its pastors not drink , smoke ,or fornicate it is quite entitled to do so even heterosexuals do find it easier to cheat than homosexuals.The fact that the church has huge difficulty in enforcing its policy does not render its policy invalid.Simply put,church is entitled to preach that homosexuality is wrong and to refuse to employ gay pastors.Congregants -and pastors always have to be part of the congregation even if janitors do not- who do not agree with their church’s core values are free to join some other congregation or to start their own church
        They do not have the right to tell us that the constitution trumps the bible

        • Melanie Nathan January 29, 2014 at 9:46 AM #

          HAHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHA@!!@!! Seriously? I cant believe how thick this argument is – really – where is your basic understanding of the simple word discrimination? SO when a straight person marries – what is she doing – advertizing that she is FORNICATING? Are you serious about this? And yes the Church can preach what it wants but it cannot discriminate against a member wanting to marry in the civil system – NOTHING to do with the Church – just as a straight member participates in the civil system. He firing was because she got married. Nothing to do with the Church. Not because she came out as GAY> and even then it would be wrong. But you say Advertizing fornication – you are sick in the head to think marriage is about advertizing fornication .LOL now I have head it All …LMFAO still laughing at you…. not with you…

          • Terence Grant January 29, 2014 at 3:36 PM #

            In 1991 my fellow St Johns Hostel office-bearers (who included Adv.Anton Veldhuizen,Adv.Dirk Uijs,Attorney Theuns Steynand and Attorney Deon Malherbe)instructed Norman Snitcher to interdict me but later got cold feet and made me a without prejudice offer of settlement.Consequently I am aware that you Roman-Dutch pettifoggers are as thick as two bricks but take this opportunity to thank you for the reminder

            • Melanie Nathan January 29, 2014 at 5:35 PM #

              WTF are you talking about? Where is your context?

              • Melanie Nathan January 30, 2014 at 4:54 PM #

                Sorry not going to post comments that are irrelevant to this topic…. keep the thread or use your own BLOG Terence Grant

  7. Terence Grant January 29, 2014 at 11:10 PM #

    go laugh at your dog

  8. terence grant June 21, 2014 at 6:16 AM #

    Church has right to discriminate against minister(printed by Saturday Argus)
    I refer to the case of the lesbian minister who was fired after informing her congregation that she was about to enter into a civil-union with another woman.

    A church has the right to preach that homosexuality is a sin in Gods eyes and to fire any minister who attacks its core beliefs. This is because a church ability to grow and prosper depends heavily on the behaviour of its ministers, who basically are ambassadors and therefore are governed by a different set of rules to those applied to the church’s janitor and the church’s secretary. Consequently, discrimination against a minister would be reasonable and justifiable – due to the pivotal role that his/her behaviour plays – while discrimination against the janitor or secretary would not.

    Besides, the church could probably get away with arguing that she was fired due to its opposition to non-procreative sex and fornication(that a minister advertising that he or she indulged in masturbation or premarital sex would also have been fired) .

    The argument that the decision to examine its position on homosexuality resulted in its existing policy being suspended is as ludicrous as arguing that a decision to look at Value Added Tax means that we temporarily don’t have to pay VAT. Or that we can drive on either side of the road while the government examines the merits of the American way of doing things.

    In conclusion, one notes that the Commission for Gender Equality recently ruled that gay –guesthouses could refuse to admit straights and gay females on the grounds that gay men needed a place where they could express themselves freely.

    Ecclesia de Lange should look for another church or open her own.
    Terence Grant

    • Melanie Nathan June 21, 2014 at 7:39 AM #

      Your argument falls flat when a simple question is asked….. How does Ecclesia hurt the church if she has a civil marriage to ensure she has legal parity in her secular life outside the Church. Civil marriage invokes rights and obligations between partners such as community property right and a duty of support. So it is a legal relationship wuth important consequences that is completely outside of the Church. No one is asking the Church to marry her. So the Church fires her from her job because she wants secular rights in parity with heterosexuals. Sorry Mr. Grant – but your argument does not cut the mustard.

      The only freedom here is Ecclesia’s right to secular freedom pertaining to her legal rights. The Church’s freedoms to express religion has not been touched.

      In essence you are saying if you are gay you should not be a minister? Or you should not be a minister entitled to secular legal rights?

  9. terence grant June 21, 2014 at 2:54 PM #

    How can the state force the church to stop preaching that God is against homosexuality ?Have you not heard of religious freedom??????????

    • Melanie Nathan June 21, 2014 at 8:30 PM #

      LOL no one is asking the Church to stop it misinterpretation of the Bible. They can hate from here to the moon and back and couch it in religious freedom. THAT is not what this case is about Mr. Grant . raed it,. It is about a minister getting fired for having a secular marriage – which basically means she gets legal rights under the secular law and legal obligations under the secular law. How dare her Church curb her secular freedoms/ . She is not preaching secular marriage licenses from her pulpit. You need to read the case… LOL no one is stopping the religious freedoms of the Church. How dare they fire her for getting legal rights under her country’s constitution what douche bags!

      • Terence Grant June 22, 2014 at 1:36 AM #

        You are splitting hairs:in announcing to her congregation that she was entering into a civil union she effectively was saying that she saw nothing wrong with homosexuality

        • Melanie Nathan June 22, 2014 at 10:45 PM #

          well no one can take away her sexuality not even the church – so what was different from the week before the announcement- about her actual work performance

          • Terence Grant June 23, 2014 at 5:24 AM #

            A minister represents a church and his/her behaviour is therefore as relevent as his/her actual work performance.Ministers have to practice what they preach.

            • Melanie Nathan June 23, 2014 at 2:36 PM #

              Gosh darn ignorance – once sexuality is NOT a behavior! You are heterosexual in your orientation – or bisexual or homosexual. Neither are considered a behavior. They are human sexuality labels.

              • Terence Grant June 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM #

                You are splitting hairs again.The fact that she has may have no control over her sexual orientation is her problem.Church is entitled to be represented by someone who reflects its core beliefs

                On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 11:36 PM, O-blog-dee-o-blog-da wrote:

                > Melanie Nathan commented: “Gosh darn ignorance – once sexuality is NOT > a behavior! You are heterosexual in your orientation – or bisexual or > homosexual. Neither are considered a behavior. They are human sexuality > labels.”

                • Melanie Nathan June 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM #

                  There are no hairs to sply. Ignorance abounds – how profound – controlling one’s hetrosexuality? Have you tried that! Seriously LOL!! You dont control your sexuality – its innate. You seem ti confuse sexuality with sex. It is NOT a behavior – You control behavior but you dont control the sexuality!!! Sheez go to school

  10. terence grant June 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM #

    You obviously are a fanatical gay-rights supporter,and feel that this ministers rights are more important than the Churches right to be represented by someone who it feels is a suitable role-model.Fortunately, our courts are almost certain to decide that getting rid of this activist-minister is the lesser of the two evils.Imagine telling the Catholic church that it has to accept female priests or telling a mosque that it has to continue employing a gay Imam!You”re as nutty as a fruit-cake,my dear…

    • Melanie Nathan June 24, 2014 at 10:32 AM #

      haha your true colors – what is fanatical about supporting full equality for all in the realm of civil and secular rights? And when the secular conflicts with religion – what do you think? That a lesbian minister should be denied the right to laws that require spousal support, community property etc? You the audience decide what is fair. As for fanatical let that be your excuse Mr. Grant for refusing to acknowledge that people should be treated fairly and equaly? #WHATwouldJESUSthinkOFthisINEQUALITY?

      • terence grant June 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM #

        What do you think Jesus would say about a male priest having anal-sex with his boyfriend?Or about a female minister doing the same with a strap-on?I suspect he would lecture us on the importance of ensuring that we are firmly in control of all of our appetites…

        • Melanie Nathan June 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM #

          I dont know given the times I have no doubt Jesus probably indulged himself in some anal sex. I dont think he much adhered to the laws handed down to Moshe, after all he was somewhat of a rebel. Did he eat pig? mmmm i dont know! Did he play rugby with a pig skin ball…mmm i dont know. . Nowhere in the Bible does it prevent lesbians from strap-ons and I did not see anywhere we Jesus considered love or love making an appetite issue. Your problem is you think like a horny man – one whose mind is incapable of separating sexual acts with love and sexuality. If you have a wife – may God help her. Its your type of thinking that makes heterosexual sex so boring and Unappetizing. How long did your marriage last – that is if your type is able to even find a wife. poor woman!

    • Melanie Nathan June 24, 2014 at 10:34 AM #

      dont muddy the watres – she was not fired for being a lesbian- she was fired for telling people she planned to marry – or was she fired for being a lesbian. The chruch had not taken a position on firing lesbian ministers for their sexuality as the Catholics had done with regard to not accepting female priests – pigs and pears

  11. Terence Grant October 1, 2014 at 12:02 AM #

    I am pleased to hear that the SCA has ruled against those pig-headed ignoramuses who refused to believe that a church has (under the constitution)the right to decide that homosexuality is wrong,and that a homosexual cannot be allowed to head a congregation /serve as a minister.Spare a thought for how much money this gay pastor has spent due to bad legal advice.

    • Melanie Nathan October 1, 2014 at 9:13 AM #

      The ONLY SIES Terenace Grant is your bigotry. She should not be fired for LOVE! Can religious intolerance justify that? Lets keep the CHURCH out of our CIVIL rights! Have some respect SIES!

      • Terence Grant October 2, 2014 at 7:22 AM #

        next you nutters with your one-track minds will be arguing that A Methodist minister who converts to Judaism is entitled to hold onto his/her job…that his/her right to religious freedom has been violated!ha ha ha hah!

        • Melanie Nathan October 2, 2014 at 9:23 AM #

          Gosh you really are not very smart terence -par for the course in your thinking! That said I challenge you to a worthy metaphor or analogy. please ?

          • Terence Grant October 2, 2014 at 11:21 AM #

            I suppose you think that the SCA didn’t understand the issue.hahahaha!

            • Melanie Nathan October 2, 2014 at 1:03 PM #

              YES hahahahaha BIGOTS hahahaha

              • Terence Grant October 2, 2014 at 10:56 PM #

                It’s called religious freedom:God is entitled to frown on homosexuality and people are expected to defer to him
                ha ha ha ha

                • Melanie Nathan October 2, 2014 at 11:34 PM #

                  HAHAHAH Hahaha Ah Huh…. God is entitled? LOL -ok Let me set you straight here Terence. God is as God does – God is entitled to everything and anything. He is even entitled to tell Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him, – God can do anything God wants. In fact God did tell Abraham to take his son.and sacrifice him.Remember? And then changed the trajectory. hahahah hauhuh

                  Now while God is entitled to to frown on homosexuality he is also entitled to frown on heterosexuality too – but that does not mean he has frowned at either!. entitled and actual are 2 different things no?

                • Terence Grant October 3, 2014 at 3:44 AM #


                • Melanie Nathan October 3, 2014 at 7:49 AM #

                  Courts are constructed to protect the basic human rights of people. As I recall Jesus Christ had a deep interest in the human rights of all people. The right to parity under the law is a civil right and not a religious right. The right to religious freedom is a basic human right too. However one does not get to EAT the other, So while religious freedoms refer to prayer , worship etc, it does not give one the right to strip an income producing job from someone who marries merely to have equality under the civil law. No one asked the church to marry her – she just wanted to obtain community property rights and support rights and all that which CIVIL law affords. So you are in essence saying that she should be axed by her religion because she obtained civil rights? How Moronoc is that. when the Courts adjudicate which they did yesterday – they rule not on whether the Church was rtight or wrong but rather on whether it is an internal matter., We all know its contra bono mores to deny someone their basic legal rights. And that is what the church did. they discriminated . they said Gay people you cannot marry under the CIVIL LAW and get legal rights and hence we rob you of your human rights – if you want your JOB with us, mmmm very nice. Jesus poor jesus – is doing cartwheels in his tomb hahahahahahaha heheheh hahaha

                • Terence Grant October 4, 2014 at 12:59 AM #

                  Listen, you 4king whining moron:in the eyes of the church she wasn’t a morally upright person and that is all that matters,you twat!

                • Melanie Nathan October 5, 2014 at 8:59 AM #

                  Hahahaha Terence Grant #unhinged – I knew it would not take much to get you to jump over the edge into real person mode…. and I suppose your religion has made you the very decent man you are. I knew if I goaded you 3 more times your true colors would come out – and here it is for all the world to see. Terence Grant – the nice man – whose religion has served him well. I know Ecclessia personally and would trade her morals for you any day. You are intolerant, hateful, rude and when all is said and done morally bankrupt. Now I suggest you go read that book about Jesus just one more time.


                • Melanie Nathan October 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM #

                  PS I moderate comments and did not need to put this one up – – however my entire goading would have been for naught. I really wantedyou to show your true colors and you did not let me down. Thanks Terrence wooohooo


  1. South African Appeals Court Rejects Fired Methodist Lesbian Appeal | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da - October 3, 2014

    […] Ecclessia has been fighting for more than four years to have her job reinstated after she was dismissed by MCSA . In August, the Supreme Court of Appeals heard her appeal against a June 2013 Cape Town High Court ruling forcing her back into arbitration with the Church. […]

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