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Judaism is the religion of the outsider although some African tribes claim a connection to a Jewish origin, compare the Lemba and Ethiopians. This caricature of religions let to stigmatization. The setting of borders between religions has become a politicised matter. The ANC was founded in Bloemfontein in in a church. Of its first members were clergy. The values of the ANC was based on Christian and religious principles. During the Apartheid struggle, churches provided shelter for freedom fighters.

Many clergy acted as chaplains for the fighters Munusamy Religious leaders played a pivotal role in the process of leading South Africa to a democratic country. Hastings describes the way in which leaders from Christian churches played a role in opposing political policies which created an oppressive environment for many of the inhabitants of South Africa. Simultaneously mostly white Afrikaans speaking Christian churches supported the then apartheid policies of government Hastings This created the ambiguity that Christians simultaneously supported and opposed the same political policies, begging the question as to the disguised role of religion within politics.

Since political discussions have never been expressed in religious terms to the extent witnessed now under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa since his election on 6 May The ruling ANC led government proposed religious tolerance as well as acceptance and promotion of diversity in a pluralistic society.

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A more current development in South African politics is the utilisation of religious jargon within the political discourse and also the utilisation of religious gatherings as political platforms. By attending religious gatherings, politicians create the impression that such affiliations endorse their political positions. Over the past couple of years several incidents occurred where politicians appealed to religious sentiments in order to reach a political goal.


Examples of this would include the following: 6. February Zuma promises a place in heaven for ANC voters. The incident took place in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape during a voter registration campaign preparing for the local government elections. According to reporters, Zuma said in a speech before ANC supporters:. When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven.

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When you do not vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork. When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven. Upon objections by other political parties, the ANC responded with statements such as 'it is figurative and metaphoric speech', 'reactions to Zuma's heaven comments are 'childish'', 'the statement of Zuma must be understood in context', 'statements were not blasphemous and were not meant to intimidate' Reporter unknown December Zuma blamed Christianity for South Africa's problems.

According to Zuma Christianity introduced orphanages and old-age homes as Christianity destroyed Africa's traditional ways of caring for those in need.

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Christians objected to this statement and the presidential spokesman responded by deflecting attention: ' Zuma is encouraging Africans not to neglect their African culture' Henderson This is a peculiar incident as Zuma seems to contradict his strong affiliation to Christianity with such a remark.

Munusamy summarizes these events as follows:. Zuma has invoked religion very effectively to make political points and vow eternal damnation on his opponents. He has also found receptive audiences at church gatherings and religious leaders who quite enjoy the prestige and attention of the president coming to visit. Zuma obviously has no qualms about misinterpreting scripture and invoking God's name in vain, as long as there are crowds to lap it up.

De Waal evaluates these events as follows:. Zuma himself is cast as a metaphorical messiah, a Christ-like figure who suffered persecution but was redeemed by a populist resurrection. When Zuma was in the wilderness - in the middle of a rape case and facing fraud charges - he'd tell the Sowetan that like Christ, his enemies were trying to crucify him. It is an image that is frequently mirrored of him to his supporters and allies. They spit at him, they throw stones at him, they swear at him De Waal evaluates the current relationship between politics and religion in South Africa as a change in policy.

Under the two previous presidents, Mandela and Mbeki, religion played almost no role in public life. The resurgence of religion under Zuma, is deemed as a resurgence of 'right-wing fundamentalism', according to the ANC discussion document originating under the rule of Mbeki, The RDP of the Soul Under fundamentalism.

The rule of Zuma brought about a change in the way in which religion is allowed to influence public life. West summarizes the change as follows:. Both the erudite and somewhat bookish religion of Thabo Mbeki and the ecumenical secular spirituality of 'The RDP of the Soul' have been relegated to the backseat since Polokwane. Popular religion is now firmly in the front seat. Of course there is not one homogenous view on religion within the ANC. De Waal identifies the two main factions within the ANC: the evangelists, a more conservative Pentecostal movement manifested in Contralesa and traditional leaders.

They want the Constitution to be applied according to their understanding of the Bible. The second group consists of the more orthodox and irreligious within the ANC, which are the silent majority endeavouring the maintenance of the Constitution. The long term result of these factions opposing one another in parliament, De Waal points out, might be that. Religion according to De Waal , will play the role of moral watchdog within South African politics. Religion will increasingly be permitted to determine political decisions. West indicates that Zuma brought religion back into the public realm, but now positioning the ANC within the prophetic liberation religious tradition.

Several conclusions are to be drawn from the examples of Japan and South Africa explained above.

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Religion and politics seem to have had an ambivalent relation over centuries: at times close bed-fellows and at times crude opponents and on occasion even oblivious about the existence of the other. The reasons for the type of relationships are however more important. What follows is an attempt at identifying the reasons why religion is at times utilised as political instrument. The most obvious reason for politicians to make an appeal on religion is that religious gatherings are excellent platforms for political meetings.

By addressing religious gatherings politicians might create the impression that they are religious themselves, creating the image of a moral, trustworthy, religious person. By utilising religious jargon and attending religious gatherings, politicians create the impression that they are making an appeal on affiliates to religions that the followers of the religion willingly become supporters of the political party based on the assumption that the politicians are 'one of us'.

Giving religious recognition is gaining political support. There are however various other reasons for utilising religion as political instrument.

In some contexts, especially contexts subscribing to the African worldview, a holistic understanding of reality causes that no separation is drawn between the different spheres of existence. Everything has to do with everything. The interconnectedness of spheres makes it acceptable and even desirable for religious considerations to be part of politic decisions. It seems the obvious method: religious considerations should form part of political decisions. People in different contexts have different histories of tolerance of religion influencing political decisions.

The South African and even Japanese contexts exhibit a long tradition of acceptable use of religion within political discourse. Society seems to be content and use to this phenomenon. In Japan Shinto religion ensured a connection to the past enforcing nationalism. In South Africa religion has played a pivotal role in political decisions. Religious and political discourses touch upon deep human concerns.

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From a psychological point of view religious and political decisions tend to be emotionally and sentimentally driven. The reason behind this is that religion as well as politics become a core identity marker of human existence.

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  4. Through following a certain political trajectory, the continuation of the tradition of the ancestors is emphasised. In Japan the national identity is closely connected to Shinto religion. In South Africa Zuma is making religious references in the political domain recognizable to fundamentalists, causing them to support the political decisions to follow 7. The interconnectedness of spheres causes religion to be a key identity marker in human existence.

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    Religion can be a cultural as well as political identifier. Nationalistic sentiments are re-enforced through religion. By invoking religious elements, the collective memory of society is triggered to call in remembrance the unity of all that belong to the particular tradition. Japan is currently experiencing uncertainty about the future; a nervousness about Japanese identity in a global society Juergensmeyer These elements contribute to a resurgence of religion in order to search and establish a nationalistic identity.

    By utilising religious jargon within the political discourse a subtle claim to divine approval of political decisions is made. Opposing political ideas are discredited by indicating the opposite through religious traditions. Divine wrath or evil upon the political opposition is invoked. Moyser indicates how some politicians still legitimize their rule in religious terms, even in a pluralistic society by giving preference to one religion.

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    Politicians can also utilise religion in order to combat political threats and opposition Moyser Zuma illustrates this concept by enforcing the idea that to vote for the ANC is to vote against Satan and his followers. Religious communities are effective partners in the implementation of political policies.

    Religious communities are seen as fixed and stable entities, already present and trusted in society.