Hate Speech & Lies in South Africa: A Christian Response

Tim Cantrell

a view of a city with a train in the foreground

Last month here in Johannesburg in our 95,000-seat FNB stadium in the historic Soweto township (thirty minutes from my home and church) violent rhetoric rallied together a packed audience, calling for genocide of whites and farmers.1Watch: https://twitter.com/i/status/1685542774601371648 One journalist describes the scene:

Julius Malema once again chanted the song “Kill the Boer,” going so far as to say: “shoot to kill.” He then mimicked the sound of machine gun fire to members of his political cult, who answered with thunderous approval. For millions of South Africans, this was a spinechilling reminder of the horrors of our violent and divisive past. It struck fear into the heart of our nation.2https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/08/02/john-steenhuisen-letter-president-ramaphosa

Hours later we had yet another farm murder as four men attacked and tortured a farmer and his wife, killing the man and leaving his wife in serious condition in the hospital. In the days that followed, student riots broke out on university campuses, there was severe public transport violence in Cape Town, and more farm murders.3In this first quarter of this year (Jan–Mar.), we’ve had 75 farm attacks … Continue reading Whether or not these crimes were caused by Malema’s rally, they are yet more graphic proof that the last thing this lawless land needs is more incitement to violence.4 … Continue reading

Marxist Lies 

Malema is the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters,5https://dailyfriend.co.za/2023/08/01/malema-doubles-down-on-violent-rhetoric/ an openly Marxist, “radical, militant, revolutionary” political party.6As described on their home page: https://effonline.org/. Malema is a greedy crook with a lengthy criminal record, yet our current government is either afraid to arrest him or finds him a useful … Continue reading The Cuban communist flag waved proudly in the stadium at the rally,7https://www.biznews.com/interviews/2023/08/07/malemas-cuban-dream as Malema was lifted high upon a platform at the ceremony’s climax, with confetti raining down upon the demagogue (never mind that the dancing revelry caused one man to fall off the balcony to his death).8https://ewn.co.za/2023/07/30/one-person-dies-at-fnb-stadium-during-eff-anniversary-rally What’s happening here in South Africa is history’s next example of the ruin caused by woke doctrines that teach people to hate others based on their skin-color, using race-baiting to dupe the masses and line the leaders’ pockets. 

As one South African researcher states:

Malema uses simplistic half-truths about land taken from black people under colonialism and apartheid to rouse a movement that seeks, as the only acceptable redress, the surrender of all land owned by white people to the black population [i.e., the state].

. . . Malema draws inspiration from Frantz Fanon, a militant Algerian liberation icon who drew on strands of Marxism and Black Consciousness and features prominently in modern revolutionary thought on decolonialisation and critical race theory. Fanon held that freedom could not be achieved without violence. . . . 

Like all militant decolonisers, Malema holds different races as being in conflict, in the same way Marx envisioned class conflict. This conflict can only be resolved, in this ideology, by the absolute victory of the colonised, as Marx envisioned the victory of the proletariat. This race essentialism—the idea that everyone’s identity is intimately wound up in their race—exploits old racial divisions and will stir up new racial hatred.9https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/08/01/ivo-vegter-malemas-violent-rhetoric

Or as another rightly concludes:

Marxism is based on jealousy and victimhood. It starts by blaming another group for all the wrongs in the world, like the kulak farmers in Russia. Eventually, you change your laws and society to allow you to kill that group of people and take their stuff.

But once that group of people is gone, a new scapegoat is needed. The perpetual revolution requires constant blood. You end up with a country where no one has food, no one trusts each other, and no one has any freedom.10https://notthebee.com/article/white-south-african-farmers-throat-slit-by-4-black-teens-days-after-90000-people-gathered-in-a-stadium-to-chant-about-killing-white-farmers. See … Continue reading

With alarming levels of unemployment, increasing blackouts, water shortages, and rampant crime, our once-admired, beautiful and courageous nation of South Africa is achieving global shame, while Malema incites violence with absolute impunity.11 … Continue reading Even if his fringe EFF party never matures beyond desperate publicity stunts, why has he not been arrested? How can his threats of ethnic cleansing be dismissed when he has repeatedly stated his willingness to steal land and kill whites?12https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/we-arent-calling-for-the-slaughtering-of-white-peo Worst of all, how can Christian voices remain neutral or even support Malema?

Christian Truth

How should Christ’s followers respond here in South Africa, and what can believers around the world learn from this debacle? For starters, let me propose ten biblical responses:

  1. Teach the difference between defending free speech and condemning hate speech. Until we know the difference, we cannot define either correctly. God’s Word upholds free speech, as one writer states:

    “Free speech gives us the ability to share the gospel, worship God, and proclaim the truth without fear of retaliation by the government. Whether or not we have this freedom does not determine whether we do these things, but it can change how we do them. Conversely, having free speech shouldn’t be an opportunity to abuse it. Christians must always let our words be “gracious, seasoned with salt so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).13https://advocatesfortruth.com/blog/big-tech-conservative-censorship See also: https://www.gotquestions.org/hate-speech.html

    Yet Scripture forbids all forms of violent, murderous speech that attacks our fellow image-bearers of the Almighty (Prov 6:16–19; Jas 3:8–10).
  2. Purify the Church: Malema should be punished as an evildoer; yet that could also turn him into a martyr for his million-plus followers who believe his Marxist ideas. Until hearts and minds are changed at the grassroots level, hatred and violence will continue. We must address the poisonous root, not only the bitter fruits. Statistically, some 80% of those in that stadium last month shouting out hateful racism were in church on Sunday professing to worship the Prince of Peace. 

    What’s wrong with this nation is what’s wrong with the Church! “Judgment begins with the household of God” (1 Pet 4:17). While some secular media are appalled at Malema’s hate speech, I know of evangelical pastors openly praising him on social media, and others saying the Church must say nothing about these political issues. Only when our churches repent of worldliness, restore the wayward, discipline the unrepentant, and remove the wicked from our midst—only then will the church have a credible gospel witness (Rom 12:2; Jas 4:4; Matt 18:15–10; 1 Cor 5). 

    Only then will we see salt and light spreading in a dark and decaying land (Matt 5:13–16). As the popular new Essential Church movie spreads its vital message around the world, the true Church has never been more essential here in South Africa!
  3. Stun the world with churches that display a racial harmony and multi-ethnic unity in Christ that only the gospel can achieve (Eph 2:11–22). May our Spirit-filled, Christian love, and mutual trust turn the heads of an angry society and cause them to ask the reason for our hope (Acts 2:41–47; John 13:34–35; 1 Pet 3:15). May our saving God use His mighty gospel to draw them out of a cold, cruel world into the compelling warmth and fellowship of the Christian Church!
  4. Return to biblical catechisms that teach our children and our churches the Ten Commandments as our foundation for biblical morality and Christian ethics in a lawless age (Exod 20; Rom 13:8–10). How else will we restore the moral outrage that has vanished in our day of widespread indifference? If being gospel-centered means never exposing murderous Malemas or naming political parties that are openly racist—tell that to John the Baptist who called Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:32), or Bonhoeffer who confronted Nazi evils. Believing in God’s holy character and unchanging Law must make a difference in all our private and public lives.
  5. Equip our people with a biblical worldview of economics, history, politics, and more, so that they can refute the destructive evils of socialist and communist ideologies and all other lies (2 Cor 10:3–5).14See Grudem, The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. This is the goal of the new The Africa Review in Five (TARIF), a twice-weekly biblical worldview on current events.15https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyPjbr9ww2hpgf6lh5J4LRyfwBJW1OFEK (also found on Apple, Spotify, and at: https://betweentwocultures.com) Some say there are more intellectual Marxists in South Africa than in Russia and China combined, and that Marxism is the dominant ideology of the day.16https://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2023/07/25/anthea-jeffrey-countdown-socialism This is not a small problem to be ignored or minimized; these errors ”hold captive” millions of professing believers and must be identified (Col 2:8).17Here is a Sunday evening sermon-seminar that I did on “Marxism & Its Evil Offspring Socialism and Communism: A Christian Response”: https://youtu.be/FyYyxIY0qKUChristians must “understand the times” and not be brainwashed by the hypocrisy of leftist media, like when the New York Times boasts of their anti-racism and smells racism under every rock yet they defend Malema’s genocidal threats as harmless (1 Chron. 12:32).18https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/02/world/africa/south-africa-kill-boer-song.html;https://www.foxnews.com/media/nyt-slapped-hypocritical-implying-aldean-song-racist-downplaying-alleged-anti-white-chant
  6. Fix our hope in the perfect justice promised in the Second Coming of our Lord, when the King returns to right all wrongs and make all things new (1 Pet 1:13; 2 Thess 1:5–10; Rev 19–22). Sing the Psalms, trust God to avenge, and pray for our enemies to be saved: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59).
  7. Show Christlike sympathy and compassion towards victims of racial hatred and injustice, both past and present (Ecc 4:1–3; 1 Pet 3:8–9). Admire those who patiently endure such abuse, especially Christians who seek actively to “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). Yet don’t be surprised at those who no longer feel safe in the face of such threats and believe they must emigrate to protect their loved ones (Prov 22:3; 27:12). Most, however, cannot emigrate and have no option but to stay.
  8. Seek the good of the city” (Jer 29:7). Be an agent of change, use your spheres of influence to “abhor what is evil, cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9). Vote for the political parties that best uphold righteousness.19https://www.shepherdsafrica.co.za/2019/04/17/biblical-principles-for-voting/  Use whatever legal channels are available to see evil punished and to uphold law and order (Rom 13:1–7; 1 Pet 2:13–17; Acts 16:37; 22:25–29).
  9. Pray for righteous judges who will fear God, judge justly, avoid partiality, and foster racial harmony and national unity instead of strife (Ps 82; Exod 18:21; Deut 16:18). In our churches, let’s pray publicly that our magistrates will stand against real hate speech, while not capitulating to false, intolerant, and anti-Christian definitions of so-called “hate speech” (1 Tim 2:1–4). May God raise up righteous rulers and brave Christians in the legal world to defend human freedom and dignity.
  10. Preach the gospel and plant biblical churches everywhere. These are our marching orders—to “make disciples” of King Jesus, calling all to turn from sin and hatred and to trust in our risen Lord who alone can transform the heart (Matt 28:18–20; 2 Cor 5:17). This is also God’s proven cure to poverty, racial strife, and many social ills—when the leaven of Christ’s kingdom goes to work in a life, a home, and a nation (Matt 13:33).

As we sing in our national anthem, “Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica,” may God save South Africa and have mercy on this troubled land. May He revive His Church and grant us a much-needed biblical reformation, raising up faithful pastors and healthy churches. Please accept our heartfelt thanks to all who pray and cry to God for this beloved country.

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1 Watch: https://twitter.com/i/status/1685542774601371648
2 https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/08/02/john-steenhuisen-letter-president-ramaphosa
3 In this first quarter of this year (Jan–Mar.), we’ve had 75 farm attacks already: https://afriforum.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/20230522-Johan-N-Farm-attack-and-farm-murder-statistics-First-quarter-of-2023-ENG-GFdB.pdf. By far the highest number of farm attacks every year are in this very Gauteng province where Malema held his rally: https://afriforum.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/20230228-Johan-N-Farm-murders-and-attacks-in-SA-for-2022-ENG-GFdB-1.pdf
4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_farm_attackshttps://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/world-economy/bury-them-alive-white-south-africans-fear-for-their-future-as-horrific-farm-attacks-escalate/news-story/3a63389a1b0066b6b0b77522c06d6476.
5 https://dailyfriend.co.za/2023/08/01/malema-doubles-down-on-violent-rhetoric/
6 As described on their home page: https://effonline.org/. Malema is a greedy crook with a lengthy criminal record, yet our current government is either afraid to arrest him or finds him a useful tool or foil to their own Marxist agenda: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-08-18-beyond-reasonable-doubt-vbs-scandal-exposed-julius-malema-and-floyd-shivambus-corrupt-dealings/https://www.britannica.com/biography/Julius-Malema; https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/we-arent-calling-for-the-slaughtering-of-white-peo
7 https://www.biznews.com/interviews/2023/08/07/malemas-cuban-dream
8 https://ewn.co.za/2023/07/30/one-person-dies-at-fnb-stadium-during-eff-anniversary-rally
9 https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/08/01/ivo-vegter-malemas-violent-rhetoric
10 https://notthebee.com/article/white-south-african-farmers-throat-slit-by-4-black-teens-days-after-90000-people-gathered-in-a-stadium-to-chant-about-killing-white-farmers. See also: https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/malemas-road-to-ruin
11 https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/07/21/how-world-sees-us-only-thing-keeping-sa-from-total-chaos-is-its-private-sectorhttps://www.biznews.com/undictated/2023/08/02/elon-musk-slams-malema-chant
12 https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/we-arent-calling-for-the-slaughtering-of-white-peo
13 https://advocatesfortruth.com/blog/big-tech-conservative-censorship See also: https://www.gotquestions.org/hate-speech.html
14 See Grudem, The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution.
15 https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyPjbr9ww2hpgf6lh5J4LRyfwBJW1OFEK (also found on Apple, Spotify, and at: https://betweentwocultures.com
16 https://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2023/07/25/anthea-jeffrey-countdown-socialism
17 Here is a Sunday evening sermon-seminar that I did on “Marxism & Its Evil Offspring Socialism and Communism: A Christian Response”: https://youtu.be/FyYyxIY0qKU
18 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/02/world/africa/south-africa-kill-boer-song.html;https://www.foxnews.com/media/nyt-slapped-hypocritical-implying-aldean-song-racist-downplaying-alleged-anti-white-chant
19 https://www.shepherdsafrica.co.za/2019/04/17/biblical-principles-for-voting/ 
Author a view of a city with a train in the foreground

Tim Cantrell

Tim serves as Sr. Pastor of Antioch Bible Church and President of Shepherd's Seminary in Johannesburg, South Africa.