Proselytising the regulation of religious bodies in South Africa: Suppressing religious freedom?
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In democratic pluralistic and secular societies, freedom of religion is a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all individuals and religious organisations. A unique feature of this human right is the extent to which it is premised on a personal belief. The latter can be "bizarre, illogical or irrational", but nevertheless deserving of protection in the interests of freedom of religion. However, when the expression of a religious belief or practice transgresses the civil or criminal law it must be dealt with in the relevant legislative framework to hold the transgressor liable. Measures taken by the state to regulate religious bodies in terms of a general supervisory council or umbrella body are an unreasonable and unjustifiable interference with freedom of religion, and hence unconstitutional. I am of the view that the right to freedom of religion depends for its constitutional validity – and viability – on there being no interference (or regulation) by the state except in instances as provided for in terms of relevant legislation.
- PER: 2019 Volume 22