The SACC's Inter-Faith Orientation

2004 - Vol 4

by D. Scarborough

SACC logo
The South African Council of Churches' (SACC) post-apartheid orientation has been towards inter-faith. In 1990, their first visible multi-religious event was the "National Inter-Faith Conference on Religion-State Relations" which included its "Sixth Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture." 1) This Conference discussed how to replace a dominantly Christian with a multi-faith humanistic dispensation. Its participants demanded that South Africa become a secular country. This secularism was to be so radical that even the statutory Sunday should be abolished. Dr Albie Sachs (a Jewish person), now a Constitutional Court Judge, said: "Sunday observance should be a matter of personal conscience... not a question of state law." (Believers in the Future, page 38). Fr. Buti Tlhagale (Roman Catholic) agreed. He then suggested to strip all law of Christian content, and proposed that "the religious influence needs to be removed from the fundamental law of the country." (p. 44) Dr Frank Chikane (Apostolic Faith Mission), then SACC Secretary, now Advisor to the State President, called for banishing Christianity from public life. He said: "I would like to make the following proposals... that there be a clear separation between religion and state, that we opt for a constitutionally secular state..." South Africa, he said, should abide by the religious rulings of the [humanistic] United Nations. (p. 20) Dr Jocelyn Hellig (Jewish) thought that a multi-faith South Africa which accepted "all people as equal children of God could become a model for the entire world." (p. 25)

We see then, that the SACC had a profound input into the secularization of South Africa, and into its consequent moral slide. When the African National Congress (ANC) came to power, it drafted an entirely secular South African Constitution. In those days 70% of the SA population regarded themselves as Christians. They were extremely unhappy about the God-less Constitution. In Cape Town they marched, 30.000 strong, to Parliament to plead (supported by thousands others) that "in humble submission to Almighty God..." be included in the Preamble, but to no avail. Christianity was banished from the public arena, and the Christian faith replaced with a multi-faith dispensation which is, in fact, atheism in disguise.

Reconciliation Rites

In March 1996, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work, the SACC supported it by providing religious litanies for reconciliation. Some had a decidedly pagan orientation. Ms Brigalia Bam, then General Secretary of the SACC, now head of the Independent Electoral Commission, published a "Rite of Reconciliation" designed "to suit the various traditions of our member Churches..." It was to "assist pastors, priests and people to come before God in repentance..." The ceremony included a "Libation Rite" which was to be administered as follows: "Beer, blood or water mixed with mealie meal in a calabash will be used. Spears or knob kieries, wooden shrines, guns or any appropriate symbol is put on a blanket, quilt, etc. on the floor. As the minister says the following prayer, his or her helper pours the libation slowly on the symbols representing the ancestors and the spirits of those who died unjustly whether as victims or defenders of the apartheid government." The prayer reads: "As we pour out this libation, we call upon you, our ancestors, to be present at this ceremony of reconciliation. We invite the Spirits of all who have died before their time as innocent victims of human blindness... We invoke the Spirits of our ancestors to intercede on behalf of our new nation... We ask for courage and honesty through Christ our Lord. Amen." 2) - This, of course, is not Christianity, and when Rev AH Jeffree James of the Protestant Association read it, he declared that, "the SACC's acceptance and promotion of the occult and the invocation of the spirits of ancestors" was "staggering in its theological implications."

Indeed, The SACC has been very liberal in its interpretation of the First Commandment: "And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:1-3) - Men are to love and fear Him. He is a jealous God and expects obedience. He will "visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shew mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My command-ments." (Ex. 20:4-6; cf. Deut. 5:8-10) The rejection of the First Commandment is a serious matter. Paul describes the effect that apostasy has on men, saying: "Although they knew God they did not honour Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened... God gave them up... because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." Rom. 1: 18-32

Apostasy also leads to moral degradation, to "a base mind and improper conduct." (v. 28) It makes men "foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless." (v. 31) We therefore find that the apostate church condones or supports any and all sorts of immorality.

Parliament of the World Religions

In December 1999 the "Parliament of the World's Religions" met in Cape Town. Again it was the South African Chapter of the "World Conference on Religion and Peace" that had invited this multi-religious event. The South African Council of Churches was fully involved, and some of Cape Town's churches were used for PWR events. The "Parliament" obviously had socialist political aims, and had chosen Cape Town as their venue, they said, because the interfaith movement of South Africa had proved that political victories can be won by harnessing religious fervour. 3)

Cape Town reverberated with colourful drumming, singing, dancing, praying and blessing of every imaginable exotic religion. The "highlight" was the speech of the Dalai Lama, who is supposed to be a living god. And a "global ethic" was proclaimed. This pretends to be part of the Ten Commandments, but promotes humanism with all its inherent immorality. Immorality, in fact, pervades all movements which have departed from Biblical Christianity. The most shameful immorality, for instance, of the Ecumenical Church, is its support of homosexuals and of abortion.

Evangelical Christians often refuse to be realistic. They pray for the ungodly, and interpret the slightest sign in them as a change of heart. When they see that the SA Council of Churches is interested in poverty relief, they interpret this as its return to Biblical Christianiy. - But when did the SACC openly repudiate multi-religion? When did it denounce unBiblical morals? When did it plead for a Christian nation? When did it commit itself to the Holy Scriptures as the only rule of life and practice? Until they do, they cannot be counted among the Bible believing Christians. Any Church which wants to join them on the basis of: "The influential SACC is the body which offers access to the authorities," as the Dutch Reformed Church has done, yokes itself to untruth and joins in the guilt of idolatry.

The old injunction stands which says: "Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousnes and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? ... For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will live in them and move among then, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord... and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor. 6:14-18


1. Organised by the World Conference on Religion and Peace from 2-4 December 1990. The WCRP had been established in South Africa in 1984. The proceedings of this conference are recorded in "Believers in the Future."

2. South African Council of Churches, Rite of Reconciliation, March 1996

3. Internet: 1999 Parliament of the World's Religions.

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