Cape Town - The question of religion in schools has again reared its head after a pastor made a number of offensive remarks which left pupils traumatised.
Pickard Henn allegedly told learners at De Kuilen High School in Kuils River that "gay people were akin to murderers and paedophiles" and that young people who had sex before marriage were "prostitutes". Henn allegedly also said that “gay people were "as bad as Hitler", that babies are all born sinners and that sangomas were satanic.
Speaking on Cape Talk on Tuesday, Henn denied making any remarks about the LGBTI+ community and insisted, said that he had permission to preach "the full Gospel".
On the question of whether public schools may invite religious speakers into schools - and what those speaker may or may not say - Michael Swain, the Executive Director of Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) said that "Section 15(2) of the Constitution allows ‘religious observances’ (including therefore religious sermons) at State or State-aided institutions (including therefore public schools), subject to three conditions.
"The conditions are that the ‘religious observances’ must take place in terms of rules made by the appropriate public authorities (in the case of schools, the School Governing Body); they must take place on an equitable basis; and attendance must be free and voluntary. This right was also recently confirmed by the Johannesburg High Court in the case of OGOD v Laerskool Randhart & Others (2017)," he said.