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Court to rule on banning religious practices in schools

The case was brought by an organisation arguing that there’s religious bias in South African public schools.

The Bible. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – Judgement is expected to be handed down in the Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday morning on an application for the banning of religious practices in schools.

The case was brought by an organisation arguing that there’s religious bias in South African public schools.

But trade union Solidarity, which represents the six schools that the case was brought against, says that the Constitution allows public schools to identify with one religion and promote it.

One of the main issues that the High Court will have to consider in its judgment is whether the Constitution permits public schools to identify with or promote a single-faith ethos, even in circumstances where other faiths are reasonably accommodated by the school.

OGod, an organisation that brought the matter to the court, and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga have argued that focusing on just one religion is not permitted, while the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools and trade union Solidarity say it is permitted in terms of the constitutional legal framework and existing case law.

Solidarity told the court that the ruling would affect 24,000 schools in South Africa.

Hans Pietersen, founder and chairperson of OGod, has argued that the case is not aimed at banning religious practices in schools but about protecting children and emphasising that schools should engage in religious education rather than religious instruction.

The organisation says that children should be taught about religions rather than be taught to be religious.