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People, Religion

Rhema Church, Zion City, Zion Christian Church, Pentecostal movement, Afrikaners

About 92 percent of South Africans are Christians, 2 percent are Hindus, and 2 percent are Muslims. Hindus are mainly Indian, and Muslims either Indian or Coloured. There has been some growth of Islam among Coloured people in recent years. The Christian churches include over 4,000 African independent churches that collectively claim over 8.5 million adherents.

African independent churches originally broke off from various mission churches, but have since developed their own momentum. The majority are now Zionist or Apostolic churches, with some independent branches of the Pentecostal movement. The Zion Christian Church is by far the largest of these churches; biannual gatherings at Zion City, its headquarters in Moria near Pietersburg in Northern Province, usually attract about 1 million members. In rural KwaZulu-Natal there are hundreds of separate churches, and at least 900 churches flourish in Soweto.

Most Afrikaners belong to one of the three Dutch Reformed churches whose 4.5 million members also include about half of the Coloured people and a small number of blacks. The Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (Afrikaans for “Dutch Reformed Church”) is the largest of the Dutch Reformed churches with 4 million members including the Coloured and African membership. It was a racially segregated church that supported the state during the apartheid years, but then recanted and moved closer to other churches. Other denominations include Roman Catholics (2.91 million), Methodists (2.25 million), Anglicans (1.46 million), Lutherans (0.96 million), and Presbyterians (0.56 million). The larger churches in this group were prominent in the struggle against apartheid, at least at the leadership level. A number of charismatic churches (an interdenominational Christian movement) have also been established in recent years, including the Rhema Church in Randburg, Gauteng Province.

Most people who claim no religious affiliation are African traditionalists. Their religion has a strong cultural base and rituals vary according to ethnic group. They generally recognize a supreme being, but ancestors are much more important, and they believe in manipulation of the power of spirits. Traditionalists have had some contact with Christianity and many are in a transitional position, incorporating aspects of both religions into their beliefs and worship.

Article key phrases:

Rhema Church, Zion City, Zion Christian Church, Pentecostal movement, Afrikaners, Coloured people, Apostolic churches, Anglicans, Lutherans, Moria, Presbyterians, Northern Province, Methodists, religious affiliation, Gauteng Province, Roman Catholics, adherents, Hindus, rituals, Soweto, Christians, religions, denominations, Muslims, Christianity, Afrikaans, Christian churches, ancestors, momentum, ethnic group, beliefs, manipulation, Randburg, worship, headquarters, struggle, half, state, majority, people, members, recent years, aspects, group, Pietersburg


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