In Good Faith
Canadian Churches Against Apartheid
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$32.99 Paper, 384 pp.
In retrospect it is difficult to accept that Western democracies have implicitly supported, or at least tolerated, the legalized system of white supremacy in South Africa known as apartheid. Renate Pratt’s new book, In Good Faith, explains why the Christian churches were among the first to publicly protest, and why they provided such cogent and determined international support for the struggle against apartheid.
The Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility is a coalition of Christian churches that for nearly twenty years was one of Canada’s leading anti-apartheid advocates. As the first co-ordinator of this Taskforce, Renate Pratt was at the centre of the early anti-apartheid initiatives in Canada and consequently is able to supply a clear and accurate view.
The book traces the history of exchanges between the Taskforce and successive ministers and senior civil servants of the Department of External Affairs. It details the reluctant and weak responses offered by the Canadian government and business community right up to the time of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
In Good Faith will be of particular interest to Canadian Christians concerned with ecumenical co-operation and with the social and political dimensions of their faith. Equally, it will appeal to those interested in the impact of public interest organizations on public policy or the relationship between politics and business interests.
Renate Pratt’s commitment to the abolition of apartheid began during her years in Tanzania, at that time home to many exiled members of southern Africa’s liberation movements. Later, she co—authored Investment in Oppression (1973), the first enquiry into the implications of Canadian investments in South Africa. Pratt has received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from McMaster University.
“An exemplary case study of what Christians must expect in the encounter with realpolitik and the discursive deceptions and illusions that cloak so much official political rhetoric may be found in an illuminating excursus on the developments in Canadian policy concerning South Africa after the Conservative Party came to power under Brian Mulroney in 1984....Perhaps the real value of the book, therefore, besides its worth for specialists on apartheid, is its detailed depiction of the enduring weight of persistent, intelligent, and well-informed research and activity in the transcendent religious cause of justice and human well-being in the world.”
— James R. Cochrane, University of Cape Town, The Journal of Religion
“Renate Pratt has written a remarkable book, documenting in story-like fashion the Canadian churches’ struggle against South African apartheid from 1975 to 1990....In some places, this book reads like a well-crafted mystery. Except that it is a true story of duplicity, sadness, evil, courage, and unrelenting faith. Pratt’s impeccable research and personal involvement exposes some sordid realities of the behavior of Canadian companies in South Africa....This book is an encouraging stimulant for people committed to the Gospel’s call for genuine social justice and dignity for all people.”
— Bill Phipps, United Church, United Church Observer
“The richness of In Good Faith also lies in the detail....Indeed, there is little within this study with which to disagree.”
— Linda Freeman, , South Africa REPORT
“This is a work of careful research and documentation....In Good Faith should become a primary resource for Political Science courses on social change, for international studies, and for social development and theological studies. For people in local congregations, it documents the importance of voluntary organizations in social and ethical development and the process of change.”
— Tom Anthony, St. Matthew’s Anglican Parish, Vancouver, The Practice of Ministry in Canada
“One of the book’s engaging features is her review of the legal basis for apartheid and the fury it sparked in South Africa, which she alternates with sections outlining the rather tepid policies of the Canadian government, banks, and corporations....Those looking for effective models for nongovernmental social action will find this book instructive, as will historians examining the social agenda of the churches and their coalitions in recent decades.”
— Phyllis D. Airhart, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto, Church History
“Timely closing remarks stress the need for such campaigns to be thorough and sustained if injustices like apartheid are to be defeated.”
— Jamie Scott, York University, Religious Studies Review
“Pratt’s study will be of interest to a number of analysts keen to study the influence ofmorally inclined pressure groups on official policy making.”
— Paul R. Rich, University of Luton, Canadian Journal of African Studies
“In short, the lessons the Canadian churches learned from their many successes — andfailures — will greatly assist those who are interested in stimulating governments andcorporations to re-evaluate the purpose and structure of their ties to other types of repressiveregimes. The author’s long-term involvement with the Task Force since its inception, her access to a wealth of archival material, and her careful research and writing style have together resulted in gem of a book that should be on every idealist’s bookshelf.”
— Erika Simpson, University of Western Ontario, Bulletin of the Peace Studies Institute
“This book is to be seen as an important contribution towards the overall picture of the worldwide ecumenical commitment of the churches to justice and peace in South Africa — and it is to be hoped that churches in other countries will follow Canada’s example.”
— Baldwin Sjollema, Ecumenical Review
“An excellent account of the anti-apartheid struggle, it is also compelling and fascinating reading.”
— Rev. Bill Phipps, former moderator, The United Church of Canada
“Pratt has written a fascinating account ‘of what it cost the anti-apartheid stalwarts whose names must be written in letters of gold in any authentic history of the struggle for justice, peace, democracy and reconciliation in South Africa.’ This book will appeal to those with a general interest in the Canadian government’s foreign policy making record, the overseas activities of Canadian corporations, the investment strategies of Canada’s domestic banks, and the role of Canadian churches in affecting change....Pratt’s long-term involvement with the taskforce, her access to a wealth of archival material, and her careful research and writing style have together resulted in a gem of a book that should be on every idealist’s bookshelf.”
— Erika Simpson, University of Western Ontario, The International Journal
“The publication of this book is an important event, although it is not a book for casual reading....This valuable book, which should be in every Canadian library, calls for some reflection. First, the churches constitute a remarkable international network that enables them to cooperate in the struggle for justice....Second, for the churches in Canada to adopt a radical position against apartheid did not demand any sacrifices on their part...Nor did Canadian activists suffer the kind of financial loss that banks and corporations experienced when they stopped doing business there.”
— Gregory Baum, , Catholic New Times