28 June 2017

South African court bans schools from religious favourtism

The South Gauteng High Court in South Africa has declared that public schools should not favour any one religion over others.

The Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy brought the case against six schools with a Christian ethos.

In it’s application, the organisation argued that the schools’ decision to stop scientific teaching of the theory of evolution is an abuse of pupils’ rights.

While handing down the landmark ruling, Judge Willem van Der Linde said the court is concerned by single faith branding in schools.

The ruling means public schools have an obligation to review policies around religion.

It’s been a long road for South Africa’s Hans Pietersen, who began his legal bid against public schools advocating religion nine years ago.

Mr Pieterson, who founded Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (known by its Afrikaans acronym OGOD), has in the past said he is not against religion, and had been a religious scholar at university.

However he felt that public-funded schools were not the place to shape people’s religious beliefs or even uphold them.

Mr Pieterson said the role played by schools when it came to religion was an abuse of a pupil’s right to associate with scientific and cultural knowledge and engaging “religious coercion”.

Some of the practices he objected to in his court application was suppressing the teaching of evolution and teaching creationism.

Source: BBC

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