‘Religion should be allowed to influence our laws’

2014-05-29 00:00

CHIEF Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng believes we can only become a better society if religion is allowed to influence our laws.

In a speech to the second congress on the law and religion in Africa in Stellenbosch, he said he bases his stance on Christianity.

Mogoeng, an evangelical Christian, said this doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect other faiths.

He said Africa is yearning more than ever for peace, stability, good governance, sustainable economic growth and progress for all.

The critical question is how to manage the interaction between the law and religion to the advantage of all the pluralistic communities of Africa.

“Legislation has to promote the right of freedom of religion,” he said, adding he believes a real turnaround in maladministration, crime and corruption, the depths to which morality has descended and the lassitude with which officials carry out their duties, is possible, were religion to become a factor in the formulation of laws.

“Religion is very important for many of us. But like all good things, it is open to abuse. In the past, religion was twisted and used by some to oppress others,” he said.

Mogoeng said religious intolerance is one of the “heartsore factors” contributing to problems in countries including Nigeria, Sudan, Central Africian Republic, Mali, the DRC, Israel and Palestine.

The chief justice said that before South Africa became a democracy, Christianity was used to justify the oppression of black people.

Other faiths like Islam, Buddhism and African religions were devalued, to the point that their marriages were not even recognised.

“Legislation and religion were used together to justify apartheid, a crime against humanity,” Mogoeng said.

Today, the Constitution protects the rights of all religions.

“However opposed you are to a belief, all religions must be allowed, before the law, to stand alongside your faiths … to enjoy our freedom and diversity,” he said.

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