In Racial Integration in the Church of Apartheid Marthe Hesselmans uncovers the post-apartheid transformation of South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church. This church once constituted the religious pillar of the Afrikaner apartheid regime (1948-1994). Today, it seeks to unite the communities it long segregated into one multiracial institution. Few believe this will succeed. A close look inside congregations reveals unexpected stories of reconciliation though. Where South Africans realize they need each other to survive, faith offers common ground – albeit a feeble one. They show the potential, but also the limits of faith communities untangling entrenched national and racial affiliations. Linking South Africa’s post-apartheid transition to religious-nationalist movements worldwide, Hesselmans offers a unique perspective on religion as source of division and healing.
Marthe Hesselmans, Ph.D. (2016), Boston University, is senior researcher at the Van Mierlo Foundation in The Hague, Netherlands. She has published articles, essays and policy papers on topics of migration, identity conflicts and dealing with increased diversity and social change.
All interested in the history of the Dutch Reformed Church in post-apartheid South Africa and anyone concerned with the role of religion in reconciliation and dealing with increased ethnic diversity.