YACOOB ABBA OMAR: Polemic over Mogoeng’s religious views puts SA’s status as secular state centre stage
While the separation of belief from the state is a principle of democracy, concept has been challenged in other countries
The logic is seductive in its simplicity: as the head of the apex court, retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should not be expressing his personal views in public. So was the attraction of those defending him: as an SA citizen, he had every right to express his personal, Christian views. The complexities involved can be appreciated by viewing the dispute in the context of what secularism, and SA being a secular state, mean.
South Africans have tended to view secularism solely in Western terms, understandable given its history. In Europe, as monarchical rule weakened the Catholic Church in the 17th and 18th centuries, establishment secularism emerged in which monarchs adopted official religions...