The Bill of Rights (Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa) includes the following freedoms as fundamental human rights:

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion (section 15);
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of expression (section 16);
  • Everyone  has the right to freedom of association (section 18);  and
  • Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community – (a) to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language; and (b) to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society (section 31).

Our Constitutional Court has recognised that together these rights give churches a degree of autonomy to govern their own affairs without interference by the State.
(Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education (2000) Constitutional Court).

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