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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

The power that religion can have over society today is undeniable. Riggle laments that our culture is plagued with strong memories of terrorist attacks, and fear of religious injustices based on gender and sexuality. Instead of giving up on religion's potential for positive influence, the author turns to an example of life-giving religion. Desmond Tutu, an Anglican Archbishop and South African political activist, demonstrates the continued existence of life-giving faith. Tutu, a man influenced by his Anglican religion, his African spirituality, and Apartheid, bases his theology on imago dei, the notion that humans are made in God's own image and inherently good. Tutu ties this notion to a life in community. He believes that because God loves all of us he also charges us to care for one another and to life peacefully in community. The strength of Tutu's convictions helped him not only to fight against the institution of apartheid, but also to ease the tensions after its destruction. In the rebuilding that occurred after apartheid came to an end the country was split between strictly persecuting and restricting those who committed crimes under apartheid, and giving them immediate amnesty. Tutu negotiated between these two sides to preserve community by creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which asked for amnesty on the condition that all the details of crimes committed were made available for the public. This focus on confession and reconciliation instead of punishment allowed for the beginnings of forgiveness and the formation of a new community. Tutu's theology is profoundly life-giving and the effects of it can be seen in the experience of South Africa post-apartheid.

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