Written By: Philip Rosenthal
The atheist lobby group O.G.O.D. has sent a misleading letter to 14
additional schools demanding that they cease a list of religious practices.
The letters were almost identical just with different lists of objections to practices. We thus copy below the common text and the separate lists of objected practices. The common text of the letters is misleading for multiple reasons.
The first part purports to quote the judgment, but actually most of it is quoting from the minority view of one judge in another judgment Sv Lawrence on Sunday trading liquor, which was quoted for completeness in the June 2017 judgment but not the view of the recent judgment. In fact, the majority view in that same Sv Lawrence judgment supported religious freedom in schools.
Further, the minority view judge
Kate O Regan was wrong in her interpretation of the interim constitution in force at the time and in fact directly contradicted it.
The atheist lobby then misquotes our constitution on two points:
Firstly, claiming it says we must ‘celebrate diversity’ instead of ‘unity in diversity’, which have very different meanings.
Secondly claiming the constitution says they must ‘correct the biases of the past’ while in fact it says ‘correct injustices’. Different religious ethos and practice is not an injustice and the constitution specifically indicates differently as did the majority in the Sv Lawrence Constitutional Court ruling.
They then demand the schools respond in 21 days, which they have no right to do, especially as the case still can be appealed (deadline to decide by 4th
O.G.O.D. demands an end to a list of religious practices (see below):
– Some of which O.G.O.D is correct, would be required if the ruling is not appealed.
– Some of which could be the subject of further litigation to clarify if the ruling is not appealed but the schools have no duty to comply at this point.
– Some of which directly contradict the court ruling and would infringe on religious freedoms the court affirmed.
O.G.O.D either through ignorance or trying to exploit the ignorance of
others, muddles these together.
Furthermore, the June 2017 court ruling affirmed the principle of
‘subsidiarity’. In other words, if there is an issue contested, the parents at that school who are not happy would need to take the issue up first with their school governing body and try resolve it at that level. Only if this is not resolved, can it be taken to the next level. The schools are really under no obligation to respond to an outside bullying group such as O.G.O.D. and any response to them is likely to just be used as the basis of more bullying. The schools would thus be wise to not respond to them, but rather
to let others defend them.
It does however highlight the need for the 6 schools to appeal the July 2017 OGOD ruling, and that accepting it will not lead to peace but just more litigation.