Black Worshipers Not Welcome in South African Church

Mark Babatunde July 05, 2017
A church leader told two black men that allowing them into an all-white church would be a violation of the “rights of Afrikaans people”. Photo Credit: The Cable

Afrikaanse Protestante Kerk, a South African church, recently told Black worshipers that they are not welcome to attend Sunday service with the rest of the congregation.

Based in Orania, South Africa, the Afrikaanse Protestante Kerk (Afrikaans Protestant Church, APK) barred two Black journalists from attending church service, according to the Cable.

The journalists, who were on assignment in the area and decided to attend a Sunday service before returning to Pretoria, were reportedly turned back by a church leader who told them “the church is only for Whites.”

Afrikaners is the ethnic grouping used to describe the direct descendants of Europeans, mostly Dutch settlers, who arrived in South Africa around the 17th and 18th centuries.

They dominated much of South Africa’s economy and politics prior to 1994, when their harsh policy of racial segregation from the rest of the Black African majority, known as Apartheid, was dismantled.

The church leader — later identified as Theunis Oukamp — told the men that allowing Black people into an all-White church would be violating the “rights of Afrikaans people.”

“I am now in a difficult situation. You know that Orania is only for White people. This is why we are here,” Oukamp said.

“You must understand I know you want to serve God and everything, but I have to protect the rights of Afrikaans people.

“So I cannot let you in, you guys can go to any other church, but this one is only for White people.”

Racist Town Post-Apartheid

In January, Face2Face Africa published a story on Orania, an Afrikaans-only South African town located along the banks of the Orange River in the arid Karoo region of the Northern Cape province.

Established in 1994 — while the rest of the world was celebrating the end of Apartheid in South Africa — the town of less than 2,000 residents has become a so-called stronghold for White South Africans who wish to protect their Afrikaner identity by keeping their language and culture alive.

To date, no Black South African or any other person who is not an Afrikaner is allowed to reside in Orania town, even if they speak Afrikaans or are married to an Afrikaner.

Oukamp’s remarks sparked outrage within the South African Christian community, with many condemning it as racist and discriminatory.

Patrick Shole, president of the South Africa Union Council of Independent Churches, said it was regrettable to find examples of segregation within the Christian body 23 years after Apartheid ended.

“We don’t discriminate in church because before God we are one – whether White or Black. I find it weird that we still have discrimination in the church,” Shole said.

Meanwhile, the Afrikaanse Protestante Kerk leadership issued a statement saying Mr. Oukamp acted out of line with the church’s policy.

James Kemp, a spokesperson, said the church had been the subject of negative publications in the past.

“The sensitivity of the Orania church is that over the last few years they have had six journalists visiting the congregation, and it had a negative impact in the media. It was mainly European publications,” Kemp said.

However, according to the book “Maintaining Apartheid or Promoting Change?” by Abdulkader Tayob and Wolfram Weisse, the doctrine of the APK church teaches that the Bible not only condones, but actively prescribes, racial segregation.

This belief is based mainly on their interpretation of God’s commandment to the Israelites in the Old Testament to separate themselves from the heathen nations.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: July 5, 2017


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates