Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Robert Trent Vinson

Committee Members

Ismail Abdalla

Brad Weiss


On June 30th, 1971, the two largest Lutheran churches in Namibia, representing approximately 60% of the country's population, broke a silence that had lasted for over 50 years. In an open letter to the South African Prime Minister John Vorster, Bishop Auala of the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambo-Kavango Church (ELCRN) and Moderator Gowaseb of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) unequivocally rejected South Africa's continued occupation of Namibia and the government's severe human rights abuses. The Open Letter signified a seismic shift in church policy, and marked the replacement of the "Two Kingdoms" doctrine with a new theology of liberation. Churches had remained one of the government's last reliable pillars of support in Namibia; when the two largest Christian bodies publicly declared their opposition, the South African government had nothing left to lean on. Inspired by the Open Letter and its bold declaration of opposition to apartheid, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) became deeply invested in Namibia and its independence struggle. Through publicity, monetary support, and legal assistance, the LWF developed into one of Namibia's greatest international allies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only