3 September 2014

South Africa: Religion in Schools - Watershed Case to Ensure Teaching and Not Preaching


Far from shutting down space to engage with religion, an application filed in the Gauteng High Court by an NGO seeking to prohibit six public schools from advertising themselves as exclusively "Christian" or as having a "Christian ethos", actually aims to broaden the experience of religious and spiritual instruction in public schools, in keeping with the country's Constitution and other policies.

The Freedom Front Plus predictably came out guns cocked and blazing after last week's application to the Gauteng High Court by the NGO Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie OGOD (which translates rather clumsily as Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy) seeking to prevent six public schools from advertising that they are exclusively "Christian" or that they promoted a distinctly "Christian ethos".

OGOD chairperson, Hans Pietersen, said the organisation was bringing the application on behalf of learners and parents at public schools in South Africa. It is the first time that a formal legal challenge of this nature has been brought. The six schools named, as well as the relevant ministries, have 20 days to respond to OGOD's challenge.

"A witch hunt on Christendom," howled Anton Alberts, FF+ Parliamentary spokesperson, adding that the party would support the...

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