2000 年 2000 巻 123 号 p. 77-90,L11
This article examines the political roles of the Christian churches in South Africa under apartheid. In the context of the “civil society and democracy” debate, it is often argued that churches as constituent elements of civil society contributed to the democratization process which took place in many African states from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Meanwhile, churches have often, implicitly or explicitly, supported undemocratic political regimes which can be described as “neopatrimonial.” As for South Africa, churches are said to have played a “prophetic, ” or “midwife, ” role in the anti-apartheid struggle and the following democratization process, yet it is also well-known that Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: NGK) supported apartheid and provided its theological legitimatization. This article tries to examine both the positive and negative sides of political engagement by the churches, with special focus on the internal dynamics of the churches.
Though the strong influence of Christian ideals could be easily seen in the earliest stages of the African political movement, churches under apartheid did not take a strong oppositional stance for long. In the 1980s, however, as the anti-apartheid political movement became radical and the oppression by the state harsher, Christian organizations such as the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) got deeply involved in the political struggle. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Christian leaders took the initiative in major political campaigns such as Standing for the Truth Campaign in 1988 and the Defiance Campaign in 1989.
This apparent politicization of churches in 1980s has been often explained based on the schema of “Church versus State.” However, when we carefully examine ecclesiastical documents that have political importance, such as the Kairos Document of 1985 for example, it seems clear that the changes in church attitudes toward the apartheid state stemmed from strong sentiments held by Christian leaders that the South African church was in deep crisis; many people were leaving the churches because they were disillusioned with these churches, which did not stand firm against, or even supported apartheid.
In other words, it can be said that it was the NGK's legitimation of apartheid on biblical ground that made churches change. In the theology of the NGK, or what the Kairos Document called “State Theology, ” apartheid was regarded to be the will of God and the anti-apartheid struggle was seen to be of the anti-Christ, for the Bible says “You must obey the governing authorities.” What the Kairos theologians condemned directly was not the apartheid state but the church based on State Theology. For proper understanding of the politicization of the churches, it is necessary to look not only at relations between churches and the state, but also at the internal struggles within the ecclesiastical circles.