This summer's visit to South Africa backfired on Jerry Falwell. Thinking he could come back to America waving the banner for white Christian South Africans, he went so far as to call Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu a "phony" (he later apologized, claiming he was misunderstood). According to Falwell, contributions to his broadcast ministry have fallen sharply since his return from South Africa. In a fundraising letter he pleaded for increased support, as "contributions dropped off $500,000 in two weeks." According to the September 2, 1985 issue of Time magazine, Falwell needs $2 million each week to continue his broadcast ministry.
Falwell had hoped to get Americans to support a white minority-ruled South Africa by urging Christians to purchase Krugerrands. Recent news wrecked his plans. In a surprise change of policy, President Reagan banned the further importation of the South African gold coins.
Falwell supports the government of P.W. Botha because Botha's government is, in a sense, a theocracy. On September 15, 1984, Botha was sworn into office as South Africa's first president under a new constitution. That constitution gives Botha virtually unlimited powers.
During his inauguration, Botha referred to the pioneers who established the white minority in South Africa. He said they "heralded the advent of a new civilization here, which decades later met with other communities and their civilizations, thus forming part of God's plan for mankind." He added, "We are part of God's great design."
During the ceremonies, an invited Dutch Reformed clergyman prayed for President Botha to "have the spiritual courage and grace to follow that divine will." He continued to say that those who rebel against authority, quoting from the Bible, "rebel against what God has ordained." It is obvious that the Botha government feels that it is of divine origin.
Many of the South African laws fit into the Religious Right's way of thinking. It is no wonder that Falwell supports South Africa.
This article first appeared in the September 1985 Freedom Writer.