Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
- Religious observances may be conducted at state or state-aided institutions, provided that
- those observances follow rules made by the appropriate public authorities;
- they are conducted on an equitable basis; and
attendance at them is free and voluntary.
- This section does not prevent legislation recognising
- marriages concluded under any tradition, or a system of religious, personal or family law; or
- systems of personal and family law under any tradition, or adhered to by persons professing a particular religion.
- Recognition in terms of paragraph (a) must be consistent with this section and the other provisions of the Constitution.
...as well as Chapter 2, section 31, concerning cultural, religious and linguistic communities:
- Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community
- to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language; and
to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society.
- The rights in subsection (1) may not be exercised in a manner inconsistent with any provision of the Bill of Rights.
Secularism requires that principles of a particular faith should not be the foundation of the institutional or legal apparatus. But it still allows for freedom of religion and association. For example, many Christians feel strongly against abortion, yet it is legal in our society. They might prohibit the practice among their followers but they cannot will that prohibition to be universal merely by referencing scripture. The nature of secular democracy is that you have to balance competing needs and in this case the rights of women to adequate reproductive health outweighs the moral indignation that many people of faith may have against aborting unborn babies.
If, as Dudley says, 80% of South Africans are Christians it also means 20% are not, so a significant minority would choose a different set of spiritual convictions or none whatsoever. Thankfully she does emphasise that the separation of church and state not only protects the state from the church, but also the church from the state (ditto for the mosque and the synagogue).
Dudley says: "...for us it is very important that the institution of the state and the institution of the church are kept separate in that they have very different roles and different functions." She goes on to say that they want to be free to practice their religion without government imposing their own restrictions and rules. Sounds like a ringing endorsement of secularism to me.
Watch the video to see the full context of her statements and judge for yourself.