No public school can adhere to and promote one religion, court rules

28th June 2017 By: African News Agency

No public school can adhere to and promote one religion, court rules

Photo by: Duane Daws

The high court in Johannesburg ruled on Wednesday that no public school could adhere to and promote one religion.

“It is declared that it offends for a public school to promote or allow its staff to promote that it, as a public school, adheres to only one, or predominantly only one religion, to the exclusion of others; and to hold out that it promotes the interest of any one religion in favour of others,” Judge Willem van der Linde said in handing down his ruling.

Last month, an application by the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (OGOD) was brought to the high court requesting it to rule against having one dominant religion observed at public schools.

During proceedings, van der Linde said that the Constitution supported both parties in the case, in that everyone had the right to religion which they could practice in public and that attendance was free and voluntary.

OGOD had argued that Constitutional rights which would be infringed included the right to equality, belief, as well as the freedom of religion.

Van der Linde said that the court remained concerned by the issue of a public school endorsing one religion.

“The need to celebrate diversity has been emphasised in the judgement.”

“We have found that neither school or SGB [school governing body] can say they subscribe to a specific religion,” van der Linde said.