In what can be described as a wide impacting decision, the Johannesburg High Court has ruled that public schools in the country may not promote any one religion.
The decision follows an application brought forward by the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (OGOD) to review the religious policies of six schools found to promote religious bias.
“We have, however, also found at the level of principle that neither a school governing body nor a public school may lawfully hold out that it subscribes to only a single particular religion to the exclusion of others”, stated Judge Willem van der Linde.
The decision takes into account that while one religion may be observed over others in appropriate spaces, public schools should not be considered the same as places of worship.
With the new ruling, schools will have to review policies surrounding religious expression within their walls and allow pupils the freedom to practice their respective religion without fear of any consequence.
OGOD has also argued that decisions by schools to stop teaching the theory of evolution is an abuse of pupils’ rights, much like the imposition of creationism studies.
Opposing the bid by OGOD, alongside the six directly affected schools, were AfriForum and trade union Solidarity who argued that schools should retain their religious ethos.