An activist who served as a strong opponent of apartheid in South Africa, accused white men and women in his nation of loving former President Nelson Mandela more than Jesus Christ, stating that Mandela's stance on social justice was much more moderate than Jesus'.
“Jesus was far too radical and Mandela didn't want to go that far because he understood our people in this country,” Allan Boesak said about Mandela's stance on social justice, according to Times Live.
He added, “But if he would say tomorrow what Jesus said they wouldn't like him [Mandela] anymore.”
The controversial comments were made during Boesak's presentation of the Steve Biko Memorial lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.
The topic of the lecture was black consciousness and the struggle for meaningful humanity, in which Boesak accused whites of making themselves look like victims whenever the issue of social injustice is brought up.
"What we say to white people is, 'You have to leave your false innocence behind',” Boesak said.
He also criticized those whom he calls the “elite” blacks in South Africa.
"They [elite blacks] have made alliances with the old wealthy elite, alliances against the masses and are part of the small 20 percent of the country's top elite who now gobble 75 percent of our GDP while 53 percent of our masses live in dire poverty and get between 6 percent and 8 percent of what is left. That is not black consciousness,” he said.
Boesak is the former president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), a Christian fellowship that now consists of more than 200 churches in more than 100 different countries, many of which are in the southern hemisphere.
According to South African History Online, Boesak proposed a motion declaring apartheid a heresy at a WARC gathering in Canada in August 1982. The Declaration on Racism was adopted there, and Boesak was unanimously elected to lead the organization, which at that time had a combined membership of more than 50 million Christians.
Though Boesak led a number of positive anti-apartheid movements, including several marches demanding the release of Nelson Mandela during the 1980s, he was often the center of scandal as well.
Boesak allegedly had multiple extramarital affairs, and in 1999 was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of three counts of theft and one count of fraud for having misappropriated nearly $400,000 in donations from church and aid groups from around the world.
In 2001 he was released from prison as the result of a presidential pardon.
On Feb. 25 of this year, he addressed the staff of the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town in celebration of Black History Month. There he said that a speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 helped to strengthen his resolve in fighting against apartheid in South Africa.