As Evangelicals, Charismatics and Pentecostal Churches in the Western Cape, we are alarmed at the events in the USA, and the overwhelming response of Blacks to it in the UK, Australia and other parts of the world, says Concerned Clergy Western Cape (CCWC) in a press release.
The press release continues: “The continued shocking institutionalised racist behaviour of the white policemen against the African Americans and in particular, the recent death of an unarmed and defenceless black man by a white policeman and those policemen looking on without helping him, despite him pleading for help is despicable, to say the least. As for the church, we deplore the continued brutality of Blacks by Whites.
“In South Africa, our people also suffered such institutionalised racism and as Blacks had a fair share of such racial brutality over many generations, and most times still suffering the effects of such institutionalised racism today. We, therefore, feel the pain of our African-American counterparts and we express our deep sorrow and condolences towards the family, relatives and friends of the Floyd family, and support the current protest actions, barring the violence, which we do not support.
“We similarly wish to express our sadness and disgust towards such racist behaviour by our own police as was clear recently during lockdown but also the racist victimisation in the workplaces by certain employers towards their employees in our country. The effects of our past are still clear today in our democratic society, which we deplore with the contempt it deserves. We call on all our people to respect one another as all of us have been created in the image of God and therefore should be treated humanely.
Ministry of reconciliation
“The biblical injunction of engaging in a ‘ministry of reconciliation’ among all our people in our nation and abroad compels us to take up afresh the challenge in our own country and to commit ourselves to do so in a renewed effort by resisting any form of racism and racist attitudes from whatever quarters. We, therefore, call on our churches to be alert to such incidents and to work towards the ministry of reconciliation among all our people in South Africa and report the same to the authorities concerned where necessary.
“We further plead with our government and all politicians to do so too before we see a similar situation arise, as is now happening in the USA and other parts of the world, by acting promptly to stamp out the effects of institutionalised and all other forms of racism. We ask government to ensure our politicians be wary of making political speeches that fuel hatred and division among our people with their racist remarks and insinuations. We still have many racial incidents, White on Black and Black on White. It is impossible to quantify the impact of racism on our communities, but we can know for certain if not dealt with now, it will create horrific realities. This has to end finally.
We also appeal to all employers to become more sensitive towards racism in the workplace and stamp it out. This includes our places of education.
“We cannot continue with this inhumane behaviour in any of our different domains. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa was prematurely aborted, therefore its work is incomplete, so we still find ourselves wrestling with the consequences of a fractured society, and a fresh look at it is necessary to deal with the unhealed hurts resulting in racist attitudes and remarks.
“The incident that happened in the USA is now spreading like a ‘virus’ through the world. Unless we sort out our own house we can expect the same violent protests we have seen during these last couple of months of lockdown in South Africa when we consider the draconian behaviour of our own Defence Force and SAPS towards our citizens. This could be devastating for South Africa if it blows over into our country as it already did in Australia and France. We cannot afford this at a time we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appeal to all concerned to stop talking in our fancy speeches about ‘Ubuntu’ and a ‘Rainbow Nation’. Let us all, Black and White, begin to ‘practice what we preach’, and begin to appreciate the amazing diversity in our country.
Pray for unity
“Let us pray for unity in our country, in our cities and communities. Let all of us see each other through the eyes of God, understanding that whether BLACK or WHITE we are all created in the image of GOD. In South Africa, we talk about a population that is 75-80% Christian. Therefore we should have a better understanding of what that means. Racial unity in the Church is the bullseye toward which God wants to work. We, therefore, implore Christians and church leaders from all church groupings to be at the forefront of the ministry of reconciliation.
“However, we speak as Christian leaders. This does not exclude any other faith. The expectations would be the same.
“What happened in the USA or in any other part of the world can never be justified, neither any other act of racial division, as it is wicked, unjustified and unacceptable.
“Therefore, as the citizens, especially to the churches in our city, let us afresh commit ourselves to an ongoing reconciliation of all fellow citizens – Black, Coloured, Indian, White or foreigner. Let us work towards changing this demonic narrative of racism. Let’s lay a better foundation for the next generation.
“We can no longer have the ‘blind leading the blind’; we can build a better society. We, therefore, implore every leader and others in South Africa to work together, let our voices be heard to stamp out this scourge of racism and recognise that this is real and it exists in South Africa.
“Let us pray and work for unity in our nation and cities and start building bridges now, not tomorrow!”