Apartheid Cults On The Rise In South Africa

The Times (England), via The Statesman (India), June 26, 2003

KROONSTAD, June 25. — In the sleepy towns and remote rural communities of the vast South African highveld, a new version of a discredited creed advocating divinely ordained white superiority is spreading like a bush fire.

Scores of right-wing religious groups, more reminiscent of US-style cults than conventional churches, have sprung up preaching a gospel of white supremacy to a growing army of believers, 10 years after the collapse of white minority rule.

Although far from monolithic, the disparate cults or sects share a common belief that black majority rule is a punishment imposed on the Afrikaner people by God for disobedience, and that one day the white man will be returned to his rightful place as ruler. They see themselves as descendants of lost tribes of Israel, exiled to the region of present-day Iran and Iraq in 700 BC before migrating to Europe to become the “white peoples of the world” ordained to rule over all races.

Reverend Willie Smith, a Baptist minister for 26 years before he founded Lewende Hoop (Living Hope) in Kroonstad in the Free State five years ago, said: “I looked around and saw the need of my people, the Afrikaners. They do not know who they are. The other churches are not preaching the truth. But I tell them, you are the people of the Bible. The Bible was written for you.”

Mr Smith, who claims to have 30 congregations numbering about 6,000 worshippers, teaches that God chose whites to rule and forbade them to mix with the other races. But they abandoned God’s word, and the ruling African National Congress was sent as a punishment.

“We strayed from the teachings of the Bible,” he said. “Our leaders sold us out. They want us to mix with the other races. But it is not working. The other churches are preaching that you must love all. But we don’t want that. We don’t want to overthrow the Government. We have to wait for deliverance from the Lord.

“We are suffering under this ANC-communist regime. We want blacks, coloureds and the other races to return to their traditions. If we rule, it will be a blessing for all of Africa.”

The surge in right-wing race cults has been fuelled by the fall of apartheid and the struggle by Afrikaners — descendants of Dutch and French settlers who arrived in southern Africa in the 17th century — to find a new role and identity.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday June 26, 2003.
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