The influence of Christian values in post-1996 South Africa : a philosophical perspective.
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One of the many attractions of South Africa post-1996 is its apparent ability to allow the coexistence of both religious and non-religious values in society. Among the many religions in South Africa, Christianity has always held a prominent position. In both the past and the present, the influence of Christianity politically, socially and morally has been significant. This study focuses on the influence of Christian values post-1996. A critical examination of the post-1996 interplay between religious freedom and other non-religious rights and freedoms shows that certain Christian values have given rise to a predicament in which there is a clash of rights. The clash of rights arises from the fact that certain rights and democratic values are infringed upon by some Christian values in society. This indicates that the role of Christian values in society and how far such values can be permitted in society remains unclear. The study seeks to track – and unpack – the above predicament or clash of rights with reference to the writings of selected key thinkers and three judgements of the Constitutional Court relating to the problem. The predicament and the unclear position of Christian values partly caused by a conflict of religious and non-religious rights in South Africa is the impetus for this research and the contribution it seeks to make. In that regard, the study will explore and critically analyse the possibility of overcoming the predicament or conflict of rights arising from the influence of certain Christian values in South Africa post-1996. By exploring three Constitutional Court cases which will be used as case studies and the views of key thinkers on this study area, an interpretation of religious freedom and what it entails will be reached. I will discuss and analyse what I consider to be the three strategies being used in contemporary scholarship and legal systems to deal with the predicament. Although the reconciling or balancing of conflicting rights is evident from current scholarly discussions and judicial decisions, the notion of exemption is also considered. Further, the concept of an objective appeal to public reason which this study considers as being primarily based on the three democratic values of equality, human dignity and freedom will be emphasised. The centrality of this notion, which this study considers as central in transcending the stipulated predicament or conflict of rights, needs emphasis due to the fact that public reason precedes the values of a particular religious institution as Lenta rightly upholds. From this perspective, this study will stress that only those Christian values which are not contrary to democratic values and do not infringe upon the rights of others ought to be permitted to influence society.