Christianity and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Authored by: Megan K. Shore

The Ashgate Research Companion to Religion and Conflict Resolution

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409410898
eBook ISBN: 9781315613505
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041832


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South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is an example of a conflict resolution process in which religion, specifically Christianity, played a prominent role. The TRC was part of the negotiated transition, from over forty years of official apartheid to democracy, between F. W de Klerk’s National Party (NP) and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC). Because the TRC was a political process, it was not obvious that Christianity should be involved. However, in the TRC there was an explicit appeal to religion, especially Christianity, as an authorized and legitimate method of truth-telling and as a way to foster reconciliation among former enemies. Indeed the TRC defied one of the longstanding principles of international conflict resolution theory by incorporating elements of Christianity into a process sanctioned and sponsored by government. For this reason, the TRC is considered a prototype for some scholars, policy analysts and others seeking to advance an alternative approach to conventional international conflict resolution. Yet the role Christianity played in the TRC was not without controversy.

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