Religious conviction is “one of the most important potential forces for reconciliation across racial lines in a postapartheid South Africa,” according to a report issued by the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on South Africa. Three Christian leaders served on the committee: Christian College Coalition president John R. Dellenback, Georgetown University president Timothy S. Healy, and Philadelphia pastor Leon H. Sullivan.

In the report, the Reagan administration’s policy of “constructive engagement” toward South Africa meets sharp criticism. And the report issues an urgent call for direct negotiations between ruling whites and the nation’s majority, which has no national political representation. The removal of apartheid and an end to exclusive white rule “is of paramount importance and must be the first priority,” the report states.

The advisory committee was appointed in 1985 to examine U.S. policy toward South Africa and recommend alternatives to promote peaceful change and equal rights there. The conclusions of its members reflect considerable ambivalence about U.S. imposed sanctions against South Africa.

Sullivan, a Baptist pastor who developed a series of fair-employment guidelines for use in South Africa, criticized the report for failing “to deal sufficiently with the continuing intransigence of the South African government to dismantle the apartheid system.” Sullivan suggested a withdrawal of all U.S. companies and a total U.S. embargo against South Africa if apartheid is not abolished by statute when the current U.S. sanctions come up for review. But he wrote in his dissent, “I commend and support the general thrust of the Advisory ...

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