Schools in South Africa Will Not Be Allowed to Promote Only One Religion


OGOD wins against single religious teachings

The Johannesburg High Court has outlawed single religion schools in South Africa.[/tweetit] The court ruled that public schools from now on cannot promote themselves as adhering to one specific religion while excluding others.

Schools in South Africa Will Not Be Allowed to Promote Only One Religion[/tweetthis]

The ruling by Johannesburg's South Gauteng High Court issued this ruling as a component of a case filed by Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie or OGOD. In English, it loosely translates into The Organization for Religious Education and Democracy. OGOD opposes religious indoctrination via public schools. This group has instituted a case against six Christian majority institutions. It had requested a few restraining orders on a few specific religious practices.

OGOD engages itself in fighting against any kind of religious indoctrination in the confines of public schools. The judges did not give restraining orders against the 71 examples of conduct which allegedly showed a religious theme. They, however, did strike a serious determination when it came to single religion schools.

Judge Willem van der Linde said that religious observances could be conducted at state-aided institutions or state as far as they observe the rules set down by local authorities. They must also be conducted on an equitable basis as well. This approach may seem simplistic in other countries, but in South Africa, it is not.

Solidarity, a trade union that represented the schools against the cases, said the South African constitution permits public schools to identify with a single religion and also promote it. The organization represented six schools: the Laerskool Randhart, Oudtshoorn Gimnasium, Laerskool Garsfontein, Hoërskool Oudtshoorn, Laerskool Baanbreker and Hoërskool Linden. OGOD had put forward the argument that these schools' religious practices resulted in the suppression of vital scientific teachings, especially evolution. It also said that these kinds of religious ethos can be regarded as a kind of coercion. It also marks an abuse of the rights of pupils.

Judge Van der Linde, in his judgment, said that public spaces were not special ones but totally public ones that are required to achieve non-discriminatory and also universal access to quality education. He reminded that, in South Africa, diversity is not tolerated, it is celebrated. The judge questioned whether it would be acceptable for a public school, via its rules set by school governing bodies, to make itself an exclusively Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or even an atheist school. The ruling was welcomed by the national department of education as it was in tandem with its own policy.


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