Original Research - Special Collection: Gateway to the Future from a deconstructed past

Religion and culture: Revisiting a close relative

Jaco Beyers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 1 | a3864 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i1.3864 | © 2017 Jaco Beyers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 August 2016 | Published: 28 July 2017

About the author(s)

Jaco Beyers, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa and Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Religion and culture always exist in a close relation. Together with aesthetics and ethics, religion constitutes culture. As ethnicity becomes part of the related concepts, the relation with religion needs explanation. This article wants to emphasise that when studying religion, a  study of culture is necessary. This statement is argued from three positions: (1) cultural migrations occurring worldwide, (2) religion as cultural identity marker causing the borders between culture and religion to blur and (3) the location of religion within culture causing religion to act as custodian of culture. This results in a situation where any signs of animosity towards culture are interpreted as opposition towards religion. All three arguments necessitate studying ethnicity when studying religion.


Culture; ethnicity; religion; post-Apartheid South Africa; reconciliation


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