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A branch of Protestantism founded by John Calvin (1509-64). In its purest form Calvinism rejects all doctrines not found in the Bible. It is especially known for its predestination doctrine – the elected go to heaven, the rest not. Seen as a conservative and repressive doctrine which ordered political, social, sexual and other aspects of everyday life.

In South Africa it is the fundamental doctrine of the three Afrikaans “sister churches” – the dominant Dutch Reformed Church (“Nederduitse Gereformeede Kerk”) and the more conservative and ideologically restricted forms of the Potchefstroom-based “Gereformeerde Kerk” and the “Hervormde Kerk”. Together they formed the Christian base for the South African government policy, from the days of the old Boer republics to the Apartheid government of the Nationalist party. Tolerant of other protestant denominations (notably Presbyterianism, with which it had close ties), its proponents had a specific abhorrence of Catholicism, Mohammidanism, Hinduism and all other non-Christian religious practices, including the agniosticism of Communism. These prejudices and other Calvinist interpretations of the bible were utilized to support the doctrines of Apartheid.

Calvinism also features strongly in many forms in South African litarary and theatrical works. It is sometimes seen as postive and moral , especially in early Dutch and Afrikaans theatre (see the plays of S.J. du Toit, C.J. Langenhoven, etc.) but often also as negative and oppressive (See for example the plays of Athol Fugard, Bartho Smit, Andre P. Brink, P.G. du Plessis, Deon Opperman, etc.)

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