5 October 2017

South Africa: Secularism, Religiosity and Human Rights


Liberation theologies are needed in the struggle for human rights and gender justice. By ZANE DANGOR.

Culture, traditions and religiosity can be used to oppress people or they can form part of a broader human rights struggle, including countercultural struggles against oppressive regimes. The intersection between religion, tradition and culture and conservatism can and does attempt to control peoples right to "be". Often, this control can mean more than just a curtailment of human rights, but can lead to people losing their lives.

This fact was recently displayed by perhaps the most bizarre statement delivered by any head of state at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in modern history - by Donald Trump of the US. Aside from the infantile use of words like "Rocket Man" to refer to another curiously dangerous head of state, Trump attacked multilateralism and secularism at the UNGA. The UN and its agencies are expected to be at the forefront of promoting secularism so that states can implement the provisions in the UN Charter and the International Bill of Rights that protects people's freedoms of belief, religion, conscience and expression. It is for this reason that the Secretary-General of the UN is often referred to...

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