Apartheid in South Africa was a 20th-century equivalent to the three and a half centuries of slavery in America. This brutal system of racial apartness came to an end during the final decade of the 20th century, when Wilhelm de Klerk, the then president of South Africa, lifted the ban on the African National Congress and more than 30 other organizations, freed Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and canceled the Population Registration Act, the cornerstone of apartheid, in 1991.
Just as the U.S. religious community had been rent over the slavery issue in the 19th century, so too was the South African religious community divided over apartheid. The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa (white) rationalized and justified apartheid as God-ordained. The South African Bishops Conference of the Roman Catholic Church and the South African Council of Churches condemned it.