Copyright (c) 2000 Emory University School of Law
Emory International Law Review
ARTICLE: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLITICAL TOLERANCE AND RELIGION: THE CASE OF SOUTH AFRICA
14 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 657
Amanda Gouws* and Lourens M. du Plessis**
The focus of this Article is not proselytization as such but tolerance as a precondition to "peaceful" proselytization. Proselytization highlights a need for religious tolerance, in other words, a preparedness of religious people and communities to put up with contentious claims that someone else's religion is more worthwhile to adhere to than one's own. Depending on their basic beliefs and doctrines, different religions propose varying strategies of coping with (and preach divergent dispositions toward) such claims. Conditions for the tolerant co-existence of competing religions can thus not be sought in their divergent teachings. In a constitutional state (Rechtsstaat), guarantees of religious rights and freedoms constitute the highest common "peace-keeping force" that conditions proselytization. Tolerance as prerequisite to proselytization is thus of an essentially political nature. This is the principal thesis underlying the South African case study in this chapter.
No study in South Africa has as yet analyzed the relationship between political tolerance and religion. Religious freedom has always existed to the extent that different religious denominations have been allowed to practice their different religions. While this may point to relative religious tolerance, the link with political tolerance needs to be established. Religious tolerance may not necessarily imply political tolerance. Global history bristles with persecutions of one or more religions by others in the name of some bigger political objective. Many religions do not teach tolerance but rather that one doctrine is right and all others are wrong. This does not testify ...
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