New Book by ACLARS member

A new book on Regulating Religion: State Governance of Religious Institutions in South Africa was recently published by Prof Helena van Coller. Prof van Coller is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Rhodes University, South Africa and a member of the Board of Directors of ACLARS. The book is published by Routledge, as part of the ICLARS (International Consortium for Law and Religion Scholars) series on Law and Religion.

This book focuses on government regulation of religious institutions in South Africa. PART 1 explains the meaning of government regulation for religious communities by providing a brief overview of the relationship between church and state, the right to freedom of religion and the legal status of religious organisations. With reference to case examples, this section highlights the importance of religious autonomy and the right to self-determination of religious institutions and non-interference by the state in the internal affairs of the organisation. No fundamental rights are however absolute and the section concludes with a discussion on the limitation of rights and an overview of the relevant constitutional provisions and anti-discrimination laws in place relevant to religious organisations, in the context of equality and non-discrimination. PART 2 discusses in more detail the daily rights, responsibilities and freedoms associated with the right to freedom of religion within some specific spheres of society where regulation of religion has occurred or are necessary or has proved to be problematic. It includes those related to the role of religion in society; the relations between religion and state institutions; education; finance; family matters; employment law; planning law; broadcast media and general governance issues.

For the full details of the book click here

 An ACLARS member describes the book as follows:

“The book is well-written, concise and contains the jurisprudence of law and religion in South Africa…The focus on religious institutions as a context of discussing law and religion in South Africa is another excellent feature. Through this focus, the often-ignored collective dimension of religious freedom is highlighted”

“This book is a worthy contribution that considerably helps our understanding of religious freedom’s collective dimensions in South Africa and the world. We should commend Professor Van Coller for her industry and foresight.”

The full review is available here

A Research Fellow at the Faculty of Canon Law, University of Leuven, Belgium, describes the book as ‘extremely timely as it maps and organizes the scattered South African legal landscape concerning freedom of religion or belief and religious institutions specifically. An organized legal response to the state regulation of religious institutions is much needed in light of added pressure from the South African CRL Commission aiming to regulate religious institutions in order to prevent the “commercialization of religion”.  See further here


We are very sorry to inform you that due to the COVID-19 epidemic and resulting measures around the world, the Board of Directors of the African Consortium of Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS) has determined that it will not be possible to go forward with the conference originally planned for Nairobi this coming May. 

Rather than totally cancel the conference and lose all the preparatory work that has been done, however, the Board determined to postpone the conference to May 16-19, 2021. 

Everyone whose paper has been accepted will automatically be invited to participate in next year’s conference on the same terms as they would have participated this year.

We will update you with further communications by November, and we plan to update the ACLARS website ( on a regular basis with relevant information. 

We are exploring the possibility to make arrangements for interested participants to be able to make presentations that can be shared online.  More information on this possibility will be forthcoming.  Please let the secretariat know if you are interested.  We also hope that we will be able to take advantage of this year’s unique circumstances to promote higher levels of internet and online communication among ACLARS members.

The 8th Conference on Law and Religion in Africa: Law, Religion and the Family

Nairobi, Kenya ( POSTPONED to 16-19 May 2021)

Professor Kofi Quashigah Elected President of ACLARS

ACLARS Issues “African Perspectives on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere”

For those submitting papers: ACLARS Style Guides for 2019 in English and French

The 7th Conference on Law and Religion in Africa: Law, Religion and the Environment

Gaborone, Botswana, 19-21 May 2019

The 7th ACLARS Conference, an excellent event in its own right, was marked by election of new officers of the Consortium and by the adopted of an Endorsement and Elaboration of the Punta del Este Declaration on Dignity for Everyone Everywhere , the foundational document of an international effort launched under the auspices of the European Academy of Religion with the support of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies in the United States. A number of ACLARS members participated in the launching of Declaration in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in December 2018, and in preparatory and ongoing events in support of it. Adding the perspective of African voices to this important international declaration was a partciularly meaningful outcome of ACLARS 7.

NEW: ACLARS Style Guides for 2019 in English and French