All-white South African church locks out black journalists
Orania, South Africa,
South Africa’s Afrikaanse Protestante Kerk Church in Orania Sunday barred two black journalists from attending a service.
An official told the journalists “the church is only for whites”.
Orania is an Afrikaans-only South African town located along the banks of the Orange River, in the arid Karoo region of the Northern Cape Province.
The journalists were on an assignment and decided to attend a Sunday service before returning to Pretoria. They were intercepted by a church leader, identified as Mr Theunis Oukamp, at the door.
RIGHTS OF AFRIKAANS
Mr Oukamp said allowing black people into an all-white church would be violating the “rights of Afrikaans people”.
“I am now in a difficult situation. You know that Orania is only for white people, this is why we are here. You must understand I know you want to serve God and everything but I have to protect the rights of Afrikaans people. So I cannot let you in, you guys can go to any other church, but this one is only for white people,” Mr Oukamp said.
Mr Langton Ndlovu, a Christian, described the move as ‘diabolical’.
“This is demonic, in this day and age, I never thought this was real. That’s unacceptable. I wonder how they read the scripture that says “there is neither Greek nor Jew” but we’re one in Christ,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The president of the South Africa Union Council of Independent Churches, Archbishop Modiri Patrick Shole, expressed shock that there was still segregation in the body of Christ, 23 years after apartheid ended.
DISCRIMINATION IN CHURCH
“We don’t discriminate in church because before God we are one – whether white or black. I find it weird that we still have discrimination in the church,” he said.
A member of the church, Mr Sarel Roets, slammed Mr Oukamp saying turning away black people from church was “not the Christian way”.
“I’m very upset that my church did this, it’s not right. I’ve already sent the Reverend a message. From me, I’m sorry, it’s completely unacceptable. We still have problems in Orania, this is one of the problems,” he said.
The church’s spokesperson, Mr James Kemp, said the leader acted out of line with the church’s policy. He said an internal process would take place.
“The sensitivity of the Orania church is that over the last few years they have had six journalists visiting the congregation and it had a negative impact in the media. It was mainly European publications,” Mr Kemp said.
He added that there was a need to educate congregants on how visitors should be treated.
Orania Movement leader Carel Boshoff Junior, said there were still people who were in the small town for the “wrong reasons”.
Mr Boshoff’s father was pioneer to the idea of an independent Afrikaner homeland to preserve the Afrikaans culture.
“I’ve heard about the incident and I am disappointed, it is contrary to our policy. It’s not the church’s policy, neither is it an Orania policy, but it is an individual that decided to act in that manner,” Mr Boshoff Junior said.