Faculty of Theology is focused on reconciliation
Religion can be one of the most powerful tools in bridging racial divides. This according to Prof Dr Nico Vorster from the Faculty of Theology and co-editor of the recently published book Togetherness in South Africa.
The book which features ten chapters that discuss religious perspectives on racism, xenophobia and economic inequality is but one of the faculty’s numerous endeavours to promote and help further promote social cohesion and reconciliation in South Africa
“In recent times the question about racial equality and historical disparities has been a prominent theme in debates in our society. The last say five years has seen a rise in the temperature of race-related matters. Through this book we attempt to address the issues of racism in an open and honest way that invites dialogue,” says Vorster.
“Xenophobia and violent attacks on foreigners are also addressed as they are related issues.”
One of the common findings of the book is that egoistic self-definitions and distorted identity formation processes are a major cause of racist behaviour.” The book also reflects on how language can be used as a tool to promote love and not hate.”
“We also criticise the definition of racism as pertaining only to a sense of racial superiority; it pertains to all forms of hatred based on the perceived racial and ethnic features of another person. One of the viewpoints expressed in the book is that certain policies and legislation have impacted negatively on the Constitutional ideal of non-racialism by keeping forms of racial classification alive,” Vorster explains.
He adds that the value of Christianity in creating an ethos of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence in South Africa cannot be underestimated: “The concept of reconciliation is espoused in the Bible and forms an integral part of Christianity. The notions of reconciliation and love for the stranger abound in the Bible.”
The Faculty of Theology is continuously making a concerted effort to delve into solutions for the problems that society faces.
Vorster: “We have two research entities and one of our subprograms focus on moral renewal in our South African society. This has been running for more than 17 years. We focus on human rights, the prophetic calling of the church, reconciliation and authentic character formation. . Over the years we have built a comprehensive corpus of work regarding the renewal of our society and we intend to continue the work with vigour.”