Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Awakening - Religion Comes Back Into Politics

analysis

In many countries religion crossed with politics leads to a toxic mess. Look at the wars over abortion in the US or Ireland, or culture wars everywhere. To make matters even more interesting, one man's religion is often intertwined with that man's culture. But in South Africa, religion has generally been a force for good in our politics.

It's impossible to forget the role the Catholic Church, and people like Bishop Huddleston played, and how the Anglican Church helped to give Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu the platform he needed to help fight Apartheid from within. There are signs, now, that religion, and particularly organised religion, is about to step back into the political arena.

Priests played a key role during Apartheid. Whether it was actively participating in the Struggle in some way, shape or form, like Father Michael Lapsley (who lost his hands and the sight of one eye to a letter bomb) or those who allowed funerals to be used for political reasons, people of faith mattered. Whether their hierarchies did enough is still a point for debate, but the fact is that they mattered. Considering the evil that was Apartheid, that was right and proper....

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