|dc.description.abstract||Freedom of religion is widely considered as the most fundamental human right. As
such "Freedom of religion" has also been established in the 1996-Constitution of
South Africa in Article 15. Prior to 1996, "Freedom of Religion" was not formally
established in South Africa but rather a "Tolerance of Religion" in which Christianity
as the majority religious group was openly advanced. This condition was not
sustainable in particular with regard to education due to the non-homogenous society
of South-Africa. Minorities would also like to privilege to transfer their culture,
believes and values to their children, especially since the educational system is such
a powerful tool to be used in pursuit of this ideal (Henhard, 2000:251, Horn, 2005:l).
As a result the Minister of Education in South Africa has published a document in
March, 2003 that had the aim to establish "Freedom of Religion" in the Educational
system. The objective of this policy was to teach children about all religions in South
Africa as well as the world vision associated with this view. The Minister proposed a
multi-traditional approach to religious education. This is a program that studies
religion in all its forms. According to the Minister this policy established equality of all
religions. Whether all these religion are equal from a theological perspective falls
outside of the scope of this policy (Minister of Education, 2003).
The objective of this study is to determine whether the specific policy regarding
freedom of religion in the South African education system is ethically acceptable
according to Christian values. To determine this, the following questions were
considered in this study:
What is the historical background that led to the establishment of the current
To what extent is the general concept "Freedom of Religion" acceptable in
terms of Christian ethics?
How should the implementation of freedom of religion in the South African
Education system be judged?
What should be the role of the Church in the support of parents in this regard?
In this study, it is shown that the history of "Tolerance of Religion1' in South Africa,
was directly responsible for the recognition of "Freedom of Religion" in the 1996
constitution. This recognition of freedom of religion in the constitution had to be
transferred to the educational system since the "tolerance of religion" in the
educational system led to the dis-advancement of minorities.
It is also shown that the concept of "Freedom of Religion" in the light of Scripture is
acceptable according to Christian ethics. Since freedom of religion has a direct
impact on the relationship between church and government, it is also shown what the
nature of such a relationship should be like according to the Bible. The
implementation of the "Freedom of Religion" in the educational system would be
discussed in the light of this relationship. Freedom of religion can be implemented in
several different models. In the most ideal situation, according to this study this
model would be "parallel-religion" model. Article 15 of the 1996 constitution
underwrites such a model. This study has however found that the implementation of
"freedom of religion" in the South African education system do not meet the
requirements of a parallel-religion model, but would rather be characterized as a
multi-religion model. The multi-religion model is not acceptable according to Christian
ethics since it does not allow freedom of religion.
Finally it is shown that the Church has a very important role in the support and
education of parents in this regard. The Church does not have a responsibility to
establish schools, but rather to ensure that parents educate their children. Various
practical suggestion are given that can be implemented on ground level to support
parents in this struggle.||