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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

16 Jul 1990: Heyns, Johan

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(Notes from interview)

The Dutch Reformed Church was completely integrated until 1857 when the Synod decreed that there should be different denominations for different racial groups.

In the 1940s when the NP began to institutionalise apartheid, the DRC supported it and tried to give it a biblical context, i.e. God created blacks and whites, intentional diversity that should not be tampered with, as , for example, in mixed marriages. Keep the whites away from the heathens, keep their blood pure.

In 1986, a Synod report was put on the table: the most important document in over 100 years. Paragraphs #305 and#306 give the church's current views. As of 1986 the four churches essentially became one.

Religion played a remarkable role before 1942. It was the DRC who said that separation was the solution. For three centuries the white population has had a "white-guardian" relationship with the indigenous blacks. That relationship is now ending and we are talking about a partnership.

As whites we see ourselves to be those people who are here to serve those who are less privileged. The concept of service is very important.  The church created a feeling of superiority among whites in their relationship with blacks. This is both a religious and tribal problem relating to values.

Self-determination (what the Afrikaners want) is not necessarily racist. But when you want to achieve it at the expense of other people, that is racist. The practical question is whether you can have separation without exploiting other people. In a system of justice you must always remember that blacks are not in a de facto equal role.

The DRC has condemned apartheid as wrong. It has not said it is evil. To say it is wrong is to say that it is evil. Now the church wants to lead its members to give financial assistance to black development.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.