NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 29, 2014.
In sound clips and video footage aired yesterday, Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng suggested infusing religion into “law making practices” would make for a more moral society.
Speaking at the annual Religion and Law Conference in Stellenbosch on Tuesday evening, Mogoeng said that South Africa’s degenerated morality could be, “effectively turned around if religion were to be factored into law making practices”.
Mogoeng went further: “I hope to support this conclusion with particular reference to principles drawn from the Christian faith. I do so, not because I have no regard for other religions, but because it is the only faith in which I have invested a lot of time and energy to familiarise myself with.”
Lulama Luti, spokesperson for the judiciary said: “The Chief Justice believes there is a need to drive moral regeneration more forcefully and to develop a national moral code based on the foundational values of our Constitution and all other religious principles …”
His comments were the topic of numerous timelines on Twitter yesterday, based on short snippets of the speech they saw or heard. What the public gallery did not comment on was what Mogoeng said after that, which effectively negated his initial view somewhat. He said religion in the law could have negative effects, “the law influenced by dominant faith has at times been adulterated to serve as a tool for the extinction of smaller religions”.
He urged those in attendance to think about what religious intolerance was doing to people in places like the Central African Republic and Sudan as examples.
Shadrack Gutto from the University of South Africa said: “The Chief Justice needs to clarify what he meant by religion. Many people are spiritual but not religious for instance.”