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Religion important in school: yay or nay?

Religion important in school: yay or nay?

by: Lerato Motsiri - 29 June 2017

Recently the Johannesburg High court ruled that public schools may not promote just one religion over the others.

An organisation called the Organisasie vir Godsdienstige-Onderrig en Demokrasie (OGOD) took six public schools to court, arguing that their Christian religious policies were unconstitutional. Afriforum and Solidarity opposed the case, arguing that their community, specifically Christians, would be marginalised should the court rule in OGOD’s favour. Many schools in South Africa practice Christianity. It’s not uncommon to find learners in the assembly lines reciting the ‘Our father, who art in heaven prayer’ and often, regardless of whether you were Christian or not, you would be expected to say the prayer each day. This was one of the problems raised by OGOD: that even if schools made it voluntary for learners to participate in, say, daily Christian prayers, there was still pressure on learners to do so.

Naturally, the controversial issue took Twitter by storm.

 A debate about religion in schools wouldn’t be complete without a tweet from Steve Hofmeyr.

Some debated the relevance of fighting over religion in schools while the pass rate remains so low. Some said the fight should be targeted at raising the pass rate, to improve the quality of our marks and education.

Is it really that important to teach religion in school or force students to pray; is that what we are supposed to go to school for?


School and religion should not mix; assembly isn’t meant for prayer but rather updates on important matters. It should stay that way.

We asked young people what they thought of the issue. Gabriela McGowan told us: 

“As an atheist, I’d feel extremely uncomfortable if my future kids were forced to partake in the ritualistic practice of prayer in their schools. It is not the schools’ place to impart their religious beliefs on the students, which for decades has unfairly leaned towards Christianity. They should teach character and morals which is not part and parcel of religion.”

What are your thoughts on the matter?