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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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STRAUSS, Danie. Disentanglement: The basis of societal and religious freedom. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.2, pp.330-343. ISSN 2224-7912.

The road from traditional societies towards disentangling them in a process of differentiation will be the focus of our attention since without differentiation the societal basis for distinguishing between the state and the various non-political entities will be nonexistent. The situation within South Africa will be briefly mentioned at the beginning and the end of the discussion.The statement ofthe Supreme Court (June 27, 2017) regarding specific religious practices at school does not only support what is stipulated in the Constitution of South Africa, but it is also in harmony with the acknowledgement of academic freedom. In accordance with the above, school governing bodies are entitled to determine the ethos of public schools. What is at stake in all of this is the acknowledgement of both personal freedom and the intrinsic freedom of diverse societal entities. However, the question is whether or not this competence is derived from the state, in the sense that schools are integral parts of the state. This article focuses on some of the main contours of the history of Western civilization. In particular, attention will be given to the difference between traditional (undifferentiated) societies and more recent (differentiated) societies. It will show how the process of societal differentiation changed the close-knit pattern of traditional societies, specifically during the middle ages. Tribal elements, as found in the initial Roman folklaw, still played a role. Kingdoms and empires as well as the guild and manorial systems mediated the eventual transition to a differentiated situation. During the middle ages this process was caught up in the power-struggle between the emperor or king and the pope and the church. Until the latter part of the eleventh century the kings and emperors dominated the scene. Moreover, the role of law was still undifferentiated. What was called secular law was not yet disembedded from general tribal, local, and general customs or from the general custom of royal and imperial households. There was an on-going fusion of religious and political spheres while bishops continued to function as members of the feudal hierarchy. Then from the last part of the eleventh century until the beginning of the fourteenth century the papal revolution emerged. On the one hand it led to developments anticipating the differentiation between church and state while at the same time, on the other hand, it resulted in the papal claims to ultimate authority over society as a whole. The famous doctrine of "two swords" was used to undergird these ideas, although the church still expressed the view that the pope has the authority even to dethrone emperors and kings. The papal ascend to a church dominated society, reached its culmination point in the writing of Boniface VIII known as Una Sancta. Its ultimate claim is that outside the Roman Pontiff there is no salvation. In this context Berman (1983) points out that from a socio-economic perspective the Papal Revolution provided a stimulus for a significant increase in production and trade, even extending to the rise of multiple new cities and towns. It should also be appreciatedfor establishing the first European universities, for the rise of systematic scholarly reflection (theology, philosophy and the science of law) and for a growing social awareness. During the era after the Renaissance a differentiation of society took place through which diverse societal entities emerged, such as artistic creations, scholarly endeavours (universities), schools, economic trade and commerce (the differentiation of the nuclear family and the business enterprise) and of course the origination of the modern state alongside various faith communities. State citizenship is not concerned with the various non-political connections of an individual. Therefore, while reflecting on citizenship one has to disregard these non-political ties because citizenship disregards gender, cultural affiliation, economic position, social status, religious ties and moral convictions. Yet this does not mean that these ties are neglected, because the state has to protect the legal interests entailed in these non-political connections, including personal and collective religious freedoms. Apart from the presence of this multiplicity ofnon-political ties there would not be sufficient legal interests to protect. A just state ought to protect public legal freedoms, personal freedom, and societal freedoms. When "Christian" is equated with the institutional Church we still adhere to the Roman Catholic "churchification" of life which amounts to treating a school as if it were a church denomination. A school without any religious observances may still be Christian, namely when all the subjects taught are presented within the framework of a Christian understanding of reality.

Keywords : Personal freedom; societal freedoms; unified ecclesiastical culture; the Roman churchification of life; societal differentiation; Humanism; Atheism; legal interests; just state.

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