Churches to act for justice, affirm human dignity

The anti-femicide demonstration in Cape Town, South Africa following the death of Uyinene Mrwetyana. Protestors cover a police vehicle with placards. Photo: Discott, via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)

LWF shares deep concern over escalating violence in South Africa

(LWI) - Expressing “deep concern over escalating violence against women, youth, children and foreigners in South Africa,” The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) encourages its member churches there to “act for justice in situations that deny people their dignity.”

“[Bring] your prophetic voice and a practice of robust moderation into this context, transforming violence into peace through justice,” General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge wrote to leaders of the four LWF member churches in the country.

The letter is addressed to Presiding Bishop M.J.H. Ubane (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa), Bishop Horst Müller (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa -NT), Bishop Gilbert Filter (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa [Cape Church]), and Rev. Godfrey Cunningham, President of the Moravian Church in South Africa.

“God-given, inherent dignity”

In September, several people were killed in violent attacks on foreigners and foreign-owned businesses in Pretoria and Johannesburg, drawing worldwide condemnation. Around the same time, the government released statistics on the high number of women killed in the country and the rise in cases of sexual violence against women and girls.

Reassuring the church leaders of the Lutheran communion’s prayers and solidarity, Junge reminded them of “our faith conviction that all people have God-given inherent dignity.” He recommended LWF publications on gender justice and welcoming the stranger as “helpful resources” in advocacy for peace, reconciliation and justice.

Meanwhile the ELCSA Cape Church bishop has called on the South African government to “ensure the safety of foreigners, women, children and the vulnerable in our society.” In a letter to H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa, Filter condemned “in strong terms xenophobic violence” and emphasized churches’ willingness “to make a meaningful contribution by building bridges in our communities,” seeking equality and harmony.