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Original Research

Freedom of religion in South Africa: Then and now 1652 – 2008

P Coertzen

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 29, No 2 (2008), 345-367. doi: 10.4102/ve.v29i2.19

Submitted: 14 May 2008
Published:  17 November 2008


This article is about freedom of religion in South Africa before and after 1994. It is often argued that the relationship between church and state, and the resultant freedom of religion, during 1652-1994 was determined by a theocratic model of the relationship between church and state. In a theocratic model it is religion and its teachings that determine the place and role of religion in society. This article argues that it was, in fact, a Constantinian model of the relationship between state and church which determined the place and role of religion in society between 1652 and 1994. In a Constantinian model it is the governing authority's understanding and application of religion that determines the place and role of religion in society as well as the resulting degree of freedom of religion. Examples from history are used to prove the point. The second part of the article discusses freedom of religion in South Africa after 1994.

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Author affiliations

P Coertzen, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa



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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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