Does English Liberate?

Translation into English: Is it conceivable at all that it does not in fact lead to a level playing field if people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds integrate in schools and churches – and everything is run in English? Is it possible that people from different cultural backgrounds often miss each other – precisely because they only use English with each other? And is it possible that white, western dominance is perpetuated even today through the unchallenged acceptance of western culture as universally valid, good and culturally ‘neutral’? Among others, this western culture finds expression in language standards, curricula, theology, etc.
The more I learn here in South Africa, the more my response to these questions tends to be a firm ‘yes’. Now there is a dilemma, since in South Africa so much hope rests on creating this level playing field with cultural equity and justice. This is also true for churches. We find it impressive how quite a number of them attempt to overcome the racial segregation of the past. And yet, this cultural togetherness can apparently only be imagined if it takes place in terms of an assimilation into western, English culture.
I work on the assumption that the question of language use heavily influences to what extent the community can indeed be multicultural and on a level playing field. My research is concerned with the ramifications of the sole use of English in multiracial churches in Cape Town.

(This is a translation from German by Marcus Grohmann of a short article he included in his Rundbrief of September 2017.)