Religion is an interesting thing, and depending on who you are, "interesting" may mean: 'sacred, stupid, important, crazy, ridiculous, holy' and so on..
Religion and churches in our community arguably play a significant role in our society and they have been with and amongst us from time immemorial.
How glad many might be that here in South Africa, our Constitution (section 15 and 16) recognises the fundamental right to religion and the freedom of expression associated with it. The court in the case of Prince v President, Cape Law Society & Others explained the right in the following terms:
"Religion is a matter of faith and belief. The beliefs that believers hold sacred and thus central to their religious faith may strike non-believers as bizarre, illogical or irrational. Human beings may freely believe in what they cannot prove. Yet, that their beliefs are bizarre, illogical or irrational to others or are incapable of scientific proof, does not detract from the fact that these are religious beliefs for the purposes of enjoying the protection guaranteed by the right to freedom of religion. The believers should not be put to the proof of their beliefs or faith."
That says a lot! I recently had a laugh when a colleague posted a status update complaining about the rising surge of "young pastors" opening churches throughout our communities. But whether we like it or not, everyone has a right to practice their religion no matter how young or old, dignified or bizarre the practices may be to others.
It happens that some of these practices may open next to where you stay and it may be that they take things a bit too far for one's liking in that they are too loud and thus deprive you from enjoying your rights to your property. This is also what happened in the recent case of Ellaurie v Madrash Taleemuddeen Islamic Institute & eThekwini Municipality.
The brief facts are that, one of the religious groups made use of loud calls to summon their members to prayer, the complainant applied for an interdict that would prevent the religious group from disturbing her peace and enjoyment of her property. The judge agreed that the loud noise made by the religious group infringed on the applicants rights and ordered that the applicant who stays some 20 meters away from the church/mosque must not be subjected to such noise whilst she is at her property.
Although there is a pending appeal as well as quite some controversy around this decision, it is worthy to note that all rights ought to be balanced and can be limited as in this case when one in the exercise of their right infringes those of others so much that they constitute a continuous injury.
But what do you think:
Was the court decision justified and sustainable in interdicting and thus limiting to some extent the religious rights of a group?
What if you were the aggrieved neighbour, are you justified to try and prevent the religious group from practicing their beliefs and faith however they please, or should one just resort to the principle of "Live and let Live"?
We all have a right to religion and a right to enjoy our private property.