GEORGE NEWS - A massive banner at the entrance to the George City Hall, depicting a verse from the Christian Bible, was removed the very same day it was erected by the George Municipality.
The banner read: "George Honours the Lord God Almighty" and contained the wording of the Bible verse Ps 127:1. It was revealed during a ceremony last week Thursday held by the municipality in honour of the firefighters and role players who contributed during the fires last October.
An outcry shortly followed on social media, with residents voicing widely varying opinions on the matter. Soon after its erection, the banner was removed, with those in favour of the biblical message voicing their disappointment and shock.
Delaney Subramoney-Cloete said on Facebook, "If this was put up to honour the firefighters then there should be a reference to that fact, something that justifies it. Regardless of what the reason for this was, it is completely irresponsible to have this up reflecting one religion in the first place." Others voiced their support of the banner. Zelda du Toit responded on Facebook, saying, "This was not to honour the firefighters this was put up to our God for He saved George from those terrible fires and no human life was lost in those fires in George."
The idea of the banner started with a motion of exigency submitted in Council in November last year by ACDP Councillor Johan du Toit, following the raging fires which threatened George.
"This was to honour God that we did not lose a life or buildings in those terrible fires," said Du Toit. The motion was unopposed and accepted by the whole council.
"On 28 March the banner was erected in front of the civic centre but only for an hour, then the mayor of George instructed that it must be removed with immediate effect. The reason the mayor gave me was because of pressure of the media, religious groups and certain councillors. The ACDP and public of George are shocked at this deliberate removal of the banner. All we ask is to Honour the Lord God Almighty who saved our town from a disaster. Ps 127: 1 is my motivation for the banner," said Du Toit.
Municipal manager Trevor Botha said the message on the banner concerned was not inclusive of the diverse religious communities in George, and it was removed after a number of unsavoury tongue-lashings had been received. The banner that hung in front of the George Civic Centre contained a Bible verse.
"The banner was put up with good intentions in an effort to honour God in a spirit of unity for his protection during the fires in October and November last year."
A banner will still be set up under the previous council decision, provided that an inclusive participation process is followed.
Psalm 127: 2 "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those He loves."
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