©2015 Academic Paper 25 Pages


This paper examines the role that has been played by religion in South Africa to promote the spirit of peace and reconciliation in the post-apartheid state.


Table Of Contents

religion is often conceived as possessing substantial individualistic spiritual and
transcendental dimensions. ..William James ,emphasized ` the feelings , acts, and
experiences of individual men in their solitude , so far as they apprehend
themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine...
On the other hand reconciliation is defined as...implying the restoration of man to
God's favor, denotes a change on the part of both in their relations to and with
each other...( Bible Dictionary & Concordance 2009: 355). On the other hand
reconciliation has been defined as ...the restoration of a harmonious relationship
between two parties ; in the New Testament the term refers most often to God's
restoration of his relationship with sinful humanity through Jesus Christ...( The
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary 1987: 875). The Constitution of the Republic of South
Africa Act 108 of 1996 (" The Constitution") has entrenched freedom of religion
as one of its constitutional values. This entrenchment of freedom of religion has
improved South Africa's record on human rights issues. In an introduction section
in their article Richard Cameron Blake and Lonn Litchfield ( 1998) observed
thus...While South Africa's human rights record has historically been the poorest
in Southern Africa, its abolition of apartheid and its new constitutional
dispensation has made it a leader in democracy for other Southern African
nations. While some Southern African countries are regressing in their
commitments to democracy and human rights , South Africa is boldly moving
ahead. There is certainly an opportunity for South Africa to set the jurisprudential
trend in terms of religious freedom case law in Southern African courts; however
in the last two years, three important cases involving religious freedom have been
decided in South Africa...

Section 31 of the constitution creates a special commission-The Commission for
the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic
Communities ( "CRL") ­ is a constitutional body that is tasked with a duty to
promote culture, religion and languages. Various religious leaders and their
respective denominations continue to play a critical role to bringing about
reconciliation (De Villiers 2003). Political parties also display religious tolerance in
various public events when the inter-faith prayers are held before public
gatherings like during the celebrations of public holidays that are of great
significance to the country like the freedom day and more. Even though a lot of
work has been done , however, a damage caused over a period of more than 342
years can not be undone completely in 20 years time hence there is still a need to
increase religious participation and activism to promote reconciliation in the post
apartheid South Africa. The recommendations at the bottom of this document
provide some suggestions about the possible wayforward.

2.The foundation of reconciliation is to be found in various parts of the Holy Bible.
It is submitted that the following biblical verses also played a major role to bring
about reconciliation in South Africa. However this list is by no means exhaustive.
2.1 Selected biblical verses on reconciliation;
...And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in
heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you , who once were
alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body
of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above
reproach before him...(Colossias 1:20-22)
...Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will
see the Lord...(Hebrews 12:14)
...The spirit of the Lord God is upon me , because the Lord has anointed me to
bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim
liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the
Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn in
Zion-to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of
mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of
righteousness, the planting of the Lord,to display his glory. They shall build up the
ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations of many
generations...(Isaiah 61: 1-4).

... and be kind to one another , tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in
Christ has forgiven you...(Ephesians 4: 32).
...All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given
us the ministry of reconciliation; that is in Christ God was reconciling the world to
Himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting the message
of reconciliation to us...(2
Corinthians 5: 18-19)
...Above all, maintain constant love for one another , for love covers a multitude of
sins...(Peter 4: 8)
...Leave your gift there before the alta and go . First be reconciled to your brother ,
and then come and offer your gift...(Mathew 5: 24).
2.2 The statistical outlook of the religious space in South Africa;
It appears quite clearly that Christianity is still the dominant religion in South
Africa. This has historical context as Christianity was introduced by the
missionaries during the colonial era.
According to the 2013 General Household Survey Report , ...The vast majority (
85,6%) of South Africans described their religious affiliation as `Christian' while a
further 5,6% said that they were not affiliated to any religion in particular. Five
percent of individuals subscribed to religions that were described as `ancestral,
tribal, animistic or other traditional African religions' .Muslims, who comprised 2%
of the total, were predominantly found in the Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and
Gauteng. Hindus comprised about 1% of the population of South Africa , but 3,9%
of the population of Kwazulu-Natal..."

2.3 Selected sections of the constitution;
Section 15 deals with Freedom of Religion, belief and opinion.It provides that...
15.1"Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and
Section 31 deals with Cultural, religious and linguistic ("CRL") communities. It
provides that...31(1)" Persons belonging to a cultural , religious or linguistic
community may not be denied the right , with other members of that community
...to enjoy their culture, practice their religion and use their language ; and...to
form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other
organs of civil society..."
Section 181(1)(c) establishes the CRL and section 185 details its functions thus;
"...to promote respect for the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic
communities; ...to promote and develop peace, friendship, humanity, tolerance
and national unity among cultural , religious and linguistic communities on the
basis of equality, non-discrimination and free association..."
Schedule 2 of the constitution deals with "Oaths and Solemn Affirmations" in
terms of which various government officials are obliged to swear before God
before they occupy certain public offices. Among a long list of such officials are
the President, Deputy President, Acting President, Cabinet Ministers and their
deputies, Members of the National Assembly, National Council of Provinces,
Provincial Legislatures , the Judicial Officers and more.
Section 9(3), (4) and (5) prohibit discrimination of any form including based on
"...race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour,

sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language,
It is submitted that due to this prohibition black people are now able to attend
the formerly `whites only' churches as brothers and sisters in Christ which further
enhances reconciliation and social cohesion.
2.4 Selected cases on freedom of the religion;
It is submitted that the Constitutional Court which is the highest court of law in
South Africa has gone a long road in affirming the freedom of religion which
approach has played a critical role in bringing about reconciliation in the country.
Distancing a man from his belief creates internal aggression of perpetual nature
which was very common during apartheid. The following cases indicate how the
Constitutional Court has promoted reconciliation by affirming the freedom of
religion. While it is true that the litigants did not necessarily win some of the
cases, however the judges were unanimous in the spirit that freedom of religion
should be affirmed as much as possible. It can be extracted from the penumbras
of these cases without any difficulty that the Constitutional Court has developed
a three-tier test when dealing with the cases on freedom of religion. The first part
is to determine whether a religion that is before the court is indeed a religion as
contemplated in the constitution. The second part is to determine whether the
conduct or behavior at issue is the essential part of the religion concerned. The
third part is to determine whether the litigant who initiated the legal claim is
sincere on their claim regarding the essential part of the religion at issue. In a
1997 case of Sv Lawrence; SvNegal; Sv Solberg the three Appellants had each
been convicted in three separate matters of contraventions of the Liquor Act 27
of 1989. The convictions in question related either to the selling of liquor outside

the hours specified in Section 90(1)(a) of the Liquor Act or on Sunday, or the sale
by the holder of a grocer's licence of liquor other than wine in contravention of
Section 88(1) of the Liquor Act. The essence of the claim that related to religious
freedom was that the parts of the Liquor Act that prohibited the sale of liquor on
Sundays violated their right to freedom of religion as Sunday was a Christian
based belief which the Liquor Act sought to protect over and above other
religions as a Sunday was a Christian Sabbath regarded as a holy day. As such
preventing the litigants to sell liquor on Sundays was an indirect method of
forcing the litigants to submit to the Christian faith, so went the argument. The
majority judgment that was delivered by the then Chief Justice Chaskalson P
dismissed the appeal argument. The court reasoned that Sunday was choosen as
a `closed day' not purely for religious reasons but because Sundays in South Africa
had acquired a secular as well as religious character being the most common day
that the public did not go to work. That fact was recorded in labour agreements,
in business practice, and in contracts of service and provincial legislation. The
purpose of a `closed day' provisions appeared to be to curtail the selling of liquor
to the general public on such days, so concluded the court. The court held
thus...No evidence was placed before this Court as to how , if at all, the provisions
of section 90 of the Liquor Act interfere with the appellant's freedom of religion or
the freedom of religion of any other person, or serve any other religious purpose.
It is difficult to discern any coercion or constraint imposed by section 90 of the
Liquor Act on the religious beliefs of holders of grocers ` wine licences or any other
person, or any other religious purpose served by this prohibition...(paragraph 97,
p 1378-1379)
Three judges however disagreed with the judgment by the majority members.
Judges O'Regan, Goldstone and Madala held a different view. They held that the
`closed day' provisions breached the appellant's right to freedom of religion as


Type of Edition
File size
686 KB
Publication date
2015 (November)
South Africa Apartheid Thembu Colonialism Religious Freedom Christianity

book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
25 pages