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The churches, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the forefront, played a remarkable role in the liberation of South Africa. This book offers a scholarly analysis of a selection of Tutu's sermons, speeches and statements over a period of fifteen years. The structure of argumentation in his sermons and speeches is explained, the striking dialogical style of communication of his prophetic preaching is displayed, and his success in motivating oppressed people to keep on hoping and to act in a peaceful way for liberation is discussed. Tutu has shown, by preaching in a prophetic mode during the dark days of apartheid, that the Christian religion is, indeed, a major motivational force for liberation. This analysis yields a handful of practical theological insights for the communication of the gospel.

Abstract

South African society is engaged in an intensive process of transformation and change. This transformation is an extremely complex and difficult process in the light of the enormous social and economic problems of the South African population. In this unique context practical theology is practised as an academic theological discipline with a view on the role of religious praxis in the transformation process. The South African approach to practical theology has the following characteristics. It is a critical, contextual theology of a liberational, transformative nature that works with a communicative theory of action based in a critical hermeneutical framework. It takes the concrete practical situation seriously and is therefore empirically oriented.

In: Religion and Theology
In: Journal of Empirical Theology
The Complex Relationship between Human Rights and Religion: A South African Case
This volume deals with historical, systematic and empirical questions with regard to the complex relationship between human rights and religion. It focuses on the place and function of human rights in democracies in modern society. Moreover it elaborates on the problems which are implied in the complex relationship between human rights and religion from the beginning. Lastly it investigates the positive, negative and ambivalent empirical effects of religious attitudes on human rights attitudes among some youth in South Africa.

Abstract

This article seeks to answer the following question: to what extent does the interpretation of violence as evil contribute – positively, negatively or not at all – to a human rights culture among some 2000 grade 11 students at private (Catholic and Anglican) schools and Afrikaans medium public schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region on the basis of surveys conducted in 1995/1996 and 2000/2001? The regression analyses show that on a number of population characteristics controlled hamartiological interpretations of violence as evil have a mainly positive effect, especially those couched in terms of the divine apocalypse, provided it is construed in its positive dimension ('the new Jerusalem') rather than its negative dimension ('the last judgment'); this also applies to interpretations couched in terms of the institutional transmission of evil contributing to the world of evil. The other interpretations have a predominantly or purely negative effect, especially those relating to a primordial dualistic struggle between good and evil forces, divine retribution and intergeneration transmission of evil. Some population characteristics appear to be more powerful than the hamartiological interpretations, especially gender (female students are more in favour of human rights) and political and cultural attitudes.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In the light of many severe social-economic and health problems many South Africans today experience a situation of helplessness and despair. In the face of these problems we ask whether there is a better solution than leaving the country and starting a new life elsewhere. If Christianity still has anything to say regarding these social-economic problems it must be the belief in salvation - salvation from a situation of helplessness and despair. The belief in salvation should appeal to and inspire people and therefore trigger change-oriented action. But does it happen in practice? To gain insight into this question we did empirical research among two groups of youths: a group of grade 11 students at some private (Catholic and Anglican) schools, and a group of grade 11 students at Afrikaans-medium public schools whom we investigated in a comprehensive survey research project, about their belief in God's salvation in the past, present and future, as well as in his salvation in both their personal relations and local and global communities. The question is whether this belief has an effect on their human rights culture, which theoretically can be positive or negative, or lead to no effect at all. The conclusion of this research is that their belief in divine salvation has a non-exclusive, differentiated positive effect. The effect is non-exclusive, because other religious factors like an open type of religious socialisation, ritual praxis and church participation, and more especially non-religious factors like gender, home language, political and cultural orientations also have an effect, sometimes even a stronger effect. The effect is differentiated, because only their belief in God's salvation in their personal life and their own communities has a positive effect on their human rights attitudes, whereas the other modes of God's salvific activity have a clearly ambivalent (positive/negative) effect or even no effect at all.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

In the previous article we inquired into the attitudes towards human rights of a group of 538 Grade 11 students in Anglican and Catholic church-affiliated schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoricz region. We distinguished between civil, political and judicial rights, socio-economic rights, and environmental rights. In this article we examine the social location of these attitudes. We arrived at the following profile of students who favour human rights: they are female, come from the official indigenous language groups, and have been raised by parents who have a relatively high educational and occupational level, and are not self-employed. They prefer the ANC to other political parties, and are transethnically and post-materialistically oriented. Their attitude towards work is interest-oriented, definitely not money-oriented. They participate in a political culture of communication. With regard to religious characteristics, which are particularly relevant to their attitudes towards socio-economic rights, they are religiously socialised, involved in religious praxis and have open religious communication with their parents; but they are not intensely tied to a particular denomination nor do they regularly attend church services. At the same time, those who display these last two characteristics reject civil rights. With regard to interreligious interactions, the students who favour human rights, display multireligious. orientations and reject monoreligious ones.

In: Religion and Theology