Schools adopting a religion ‘breaching the constitution’

The constitution does not allow schools to choose to adopt a religion or be a particular religion, the Johannesburg High Court heard yesterday.

Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy chairman Hans Pietersen has asked the court to interdict all public schools from having Bible readings at assembly‚ having Christian slogans or badges‚ having voluntary Christian meetings at break‚ or allowing prayer in class and at sport matches.

HP van Nieuwenhuizen‚ one of the advocates acting for Pietersen, argued that court judgments interpreted the constitution as allowing religious events to take place at schools but not be conducted by school staff.

He said that when schools adopted a religious belief or endorsed a particular religion as decided by the elected school governing body‚ they were breaching the constitution.

Pietersen does not object to meetings being held after school or at weekends by external organisations using the premises.

He was first alerted to the religious nature of schools when his triplets were in Grade R in 2009 and the school wanted to hold a “Jesus week” in which pupils who were “for Jesus” would wear yellow armbands. – TMG Digital

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