‘THE WEAKNESS OF SOME’: THE DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH AND WHITE SUPREMACY

Hermann Giliomee

Abstract


The complex rise of segregation in Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of South Africa
and the fumbling efforts of the church to deal with its members’ prejudices represent
a major challenge to historians. The key factor, often overlooked in the literature, is
the influence of slavery that was both pervasive and pernicious. Among the
Afrikaners it produced at the same time a strong egalitarian ethos, particularly in
the interior, and a fierce rejection of gelykstelling or social levelling between them
and slaves, ex-slaves and servants. The segregation of parishes made possible a
more concerted DRC missionary effort. Along with segregated schools, laid, it laid
the foundation of the segregation and apartheid orders, and provided the material
basis of the Afrikaner nationalists’ “civil religion” of the twentieth century.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/83-0-880

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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