In Church and Government we Trust: The Politics of Religion in Secular Post-Apartheid South Africa

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In 1994, South Africa ventured into a secular, constitutional state system when it replaced the immoral religio-political oppressiveness of the Apartheid government. This transformative, democratic state guarantees freedoms, transparency, basic human rights and inclusiveness. Paradoxically, the more than 70% South African Christians now challenge their secular governmental structures with their high levels of dissatisfaction, alienation, apathy and non-accessibility. Ironically, cohabitation between church and government become once again unavoidable when both claim guardianship over their followers. Hence, the politics of religion in a developmental, secular state are apparent. Unfortunately, South Africans continue to confront poverty, HIV/Aids, crime and corruption, which ultimately deprive them of a good life. Additionally, both church and government are struggling to come to terms with their redefined roles as protector and guarantor of the collective good. Surveys conducted since 1999 in rural KwaZulu-Natal challenge the secularity of South Africa as well as defying the church and state’s claims of representation. This Theopolitical research project emphasizes that within the socio-political nexus, the State and Church, with their distinct yet complimentary responsibilities, will continue to promote transformation and transparency, despite secularism. It furthermore explores whether the transformed and detached church and government truly reflect the needs of their followers


Keywords: Secularism, South Africa, State, Church, Theopolitics, Representation
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Church and Government we Trust, In


Marlene Muller

Lecturer, Department: Political Science & Public Administration, University of Zululand
KwaDlangezwa, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

After studying French for 2 years in Belgium, Marléne Muller joined the University of Zululand in 1995 as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science & Public Administration. Being passionate about capacity building and adult education she has initiated and administered various training initiatives, as sponsored by provincial government and local businesses. She is currently the academic coordinator of a multi-million dollar project, aiming at strengthening Cooperatives in the KZN region. As Chairperson of the Gender Equity Forum in UniZul, she has also directed and initiated various successful endeavors in demystifying gender biasness. Besides administering additional community outreach projects, she is also part of the Editorial Board of her Faculty’s in-house academic Journal, JCAL as well as GETT Propelled, a gender-based in-house Journal. The successes of her activities were seen in the numerous awards she has received in 2007, as well as a 2008 scholarship to Canada. Her love for a variety of multi-disciplinary fields are evident. She has delivered numerous papers and articles in the fields of conflict management, multi party politics, foreign policy, local government, good governance and ubuntu. She was also the only South African representing KwaZulu-Natal in the 2007 Hawaiian Interdisciplinary Social Science Conference.

Ref: I08P0465