a beka a partheid

December 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm 5 comments

Again from the A Beka textbook, “Old World History and Geography: A Christian Perspective” (interesting reviews here and here), following up on a comment regarding South Africa in the related post (thanks Marty for the extra background information).

Interesting section of the textbook. Last time it was liberalism and modernity, now communism in South Africa. They certainly do not condone apartheid, but the beast of communism rears its ugly head in a strange way that seems to minimize their critique of the racist policies of the former government.

The new republic. To keep control of the country and prevent fighting among rival tribes, the Afrikaners divided South Africa’s population into several racial groups — while, black, Indian, and people of mixed ancestry — and established 10 “homelands” for the black African population. The white Afrikaners generally kept for themselves the lands with more fertile soil and mineral wealth. The program of racial divisions also kept black South Africans from political participation and permitted widespread discrimination in employment, education, and housing. Many black Africans obtained permits to work in the cities or in the mines, but they were required to live apart in black communities on the outskirts of the cities.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, opposition to the racial divisions grew within South Africa and around the world until the United Nations intervened. World media focused on the racial conflict, making the Afrikaners’ discrimination against black South Africans known. But newscasts did not mention the Afrikaners’ struggle against Communist terrorists who were trying to take control of the country. Hundreds of black Africans suffered and died at the hands of Communist guerrillas, but the world blamed the South African government.

Communism. In 1990, South Africa’s president began working to end the racial divisions. Black citizens received voting rights in 1992, and in 1994 South Africa held its first multiracial elections, which brought to power Nelson Mandela, a Communist leader and South Africa’s first black president.

Mandela’s political intentions soon became clear as he appointed Communists to key positions and extended government control over businesses and industries. The growing influence of Communism concerns South Africa’s citizens, especially Christians who make up a large part of the population.

So despite saying apartheid was wrong and finding the Afrikaners to be generally at fault, A Beka tries to partially redeem them as well. History is conveniently twisted to sound like they were fighting the good fight to save Africans in their own nation from communism. No mention that the guerrillas were South Africans themselves, or that the people fighting against the government were denied the right to vote. Or that people who were against the government at that time could be labeled “communist” and blacklisted and consequently persecuted (McCarthyism anyone?). Or that establishment of the “homelands” involved forced resettlement to move people to their designated “group areas”. Or mention of U.S. support for a proxy war in Angola where South African troops were supposedly fighting the forces of communism.

A Beka’s dominionist roots are showing, with a willingness and even desire to see Christian values even when human rights of others are trampled in the process. Children are taught that certain political positions, such as anti-communism, are de facto Christian values, as if there had to be a Christian consensus on this. No running the risk of teaching children that issues of right and wrong or “us” versus “them” are not always as clear cut as we might want them to be.

I was at a Christian gathering a few months ago where someone said that Obama’s policies are really socialist and practically communist. The person who said it seemed to assume everyone would be on the same page with that criticism, which I found presumptuous because I certainly was not. After the conversation went down that path for a moment, someone chipped in with, “A lot of what Jesus taught sounds a lot closer to communism than free market capitalism.” Quiet ensued.

Really, dominionism is not Christianity. So why focus on any of this? Are fundamentalists just an easy target for those who wish to criticize Christianity? Sure they are, but to repeat from the last post, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned. The tentacles of fundamentalism are deeply entwined in Evangelicalism. You cannot attend a conservative Evangelical church for long without being exposed to doctrines like this at some level. And too many moderate Evangelicals seem reluctant to speak out against it, perhaps out of a concern of causing disunity in the Church, or apathy, or intellectual laziness. Cases like this may seem extreme, but are probably not as far outside of the mainstream as many Christians would like to admit.

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Entry filed under: education, fundamentalism, politics.

we don’t need no education follow the evidence

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cecil  |  December 19, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    There is a “soft” dominionism that I hear fairly frequently espoused at my local church. At one time or another, someone becomes outraged over some incident involving the Pledge of Allegiance or prayer in schools or “teaching witchcraft” in schools or Obama’s supposed socialism, and they refer back to America’s being founded on “biblical” principles. It’s never articulated more than this, but the assumption is that any good Christian would agree with this proposition.

    It’s troubling because it is so intellectually lazy, as you put it. All one has to do is make the statement, or repeat it because you heard it somewhere else, and it supposed to stand on its own. It’s intuitively true, without need for exposition. The same holds true for calling someone a socialist or communist; that’s all that needs to be said, for the right wing in this country.

    I don’t know if you’ve posted anything on it or not, but your story about someone saying Jesus’ teachings were close to communism made me think of the project going on at Conservapedia, where they are “retranslating” the Bible to reflect Jesus’ true teachings, which apparently include free market principles.
    http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2009/10/conservatizing-the-bible.html

  • 2. Sabio Lantz  |  December 21, 2009 at 7:48 am

    The call to wake evangelicals up to understand that fundamentalism sleeps in their bedroom is a good one.
    Any Evangelicals here reading this who agree?
    Great article – thanks.

  • 3. atimetorend  |  December 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Cecil, that kind of “soft” dominionism is troubling. In my experience seeing what pastors teach, I wonder at the reluctance to address these issues. I think there is intellectual laziness, but at the point that it becomes a known issue maybe it is just seen as secondary to what they think they should be teaching. And a conservative pastor is going out on a limb if they criticize things theologically which could be seen as politically liberal.

    There has been a lot of talk about the immanent evangelical collapse (see:
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/my-prediction-the-coming-evangelical-collapse-1)

    There are clearly evangelicals who recognize the danger of remaining in bed with fundamentalists of this type.

    Sabio, that’s exactly what I’m getting at, I’m glad you see it. Thanks for summarizing so concisely.

  • 4. Janus Grayden  |  December 21, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I really appreciate that penultimate paragraph. This isn’t the 50’s, or even the 80’s or 90’s anymore. The prevalence of McCarthyism has been steadily diminishing in recent years and the potency of declaring something as “socialist” as a means to instantly destroy its credibility seems to only hold in more conservative circles.

    I think the whole reason Christianity is dumped into this is because that’s how the Red Scare was bolstered back in the day. It wasn’t simply Capitalism versus Communism, it was the good Christian Americans against the godless Soviets. But, as I said, that age is slowly passing by as the old guard is dying out.

    Just look at how slavery ended. It took decades for the idea of black people even having the right to vote to take hold. Even then, it was simply unheard of for black and white people to marry. Such a thing was seen as an abomination just because that’s not what people were used to. As the people who were more strongly against it because it wasn’t normal in their eyes started to die off and their children didn’t understand what the big deal was, it became a more and more usual thing.

  • 5. atimetorend  |  December 22, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Those are good points Janus. It is interesting how the red scare continues, how it can be continued by those who want to use it against people. And how Christians have been used by politicians on the right (and vice versa). Wonder what other old guards are dying out.

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