23 April 2019

South Africa: God and Elections - Religion and Politics Meet Behind - and in Front of - the Pulpits This Easter


Easter weekend saw politicians from across the spectrum attending religious services nationally. It happens every year, but in 2019 there is a sense that religion may have a bigger part to play in the elections than previously. A good 10% of parties registered to contest the 2019 polls have leaders who are full or part-time reverends or pastors.

Easter always sees an outburst of religious devotion from South African politicians, and never more so than in a year when elections are to follow shortly afterwards. But the 2019 national elections are unique in the unprecedented number of religiously-flavoured parties contesting the polls, and the unprecedented number of party leaders who have held positions in the church.

On 8 May 2019, Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the African Christian Democratic Party will have company on the ballot sheet. The African Covenant Movement's leader Dr Convy Baloyi, the Christian Political Movement's leader Brian Mahlati, and the Economic Emancipation Forum's BJ Langa are all current or former church leaders - and to this list we might add former pastor Mmusi Maimane of the DA.

These are just the leaders of parties contesting the elections nationally. There are further figures of religious authority found among...

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