Tag Archives: South Africa

Bennett, Traditional African Religions in South African Law

Traditional African ReligionsThis past November, Juta – Academic published Traditional African Religions in South African Law by Tom Bennett (University of Cape Town). The publisher’s description follows.

Traditional African beliefs, together with African cultural traditions, are enjoying a new-found respect in South Africa, due in large part to the advent of the country’s democratic constitution.  In fact, a large majority of the South African population adheres to some form of traditional belief, often in combination with observance of other religions.  Even so, the traditional faiths are poorly understood and, in spite of constitutional guarantees, receive far from equal treatment, a situation quite at odds with the country’s commitment to equality and religious and cultural diversity.

While there are numerous works on the subject of religion in Africa, there are no works on traditional African religions and their legal implications.  The issue is nevertheless of serious political and legal concern in South Africa, since it raises diverse questions involving freedom of religion, the equal treatment of religions, traditional healing, witchcraft, animal sacrifice, circumcision, marriage and burial.

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Van der Vyver on The Contours of Religious Liberty in South Africa

Johan D. van der Vyver (Emory University School of Law) has posted The Contours of Religious Liberty in South Africa. The abstract follows. – ARH

As far as religion and religious diversity are concerned, the South African Constitution can be described as one of profound toleration and accommodation. The Constitutional Court has on several occasions emphasized the importance of religion for the State. South Africa is therefore not a secular State but can best be described as a religiously neutral State.

The constitutional principle of non-discrimination applies not only to discrimination by the State, but also to discrimination by private individual and non-State institutions, including religious institutions. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Discrimination Act of 2000 amplified the constitutional proscription of discriminatory practices. When applying the non-discrimination decree to religious institutions, State courts will not unduly interfere in the internal sphere sovereignty of such institutions.  Continue reading