Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa

Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa

Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa

Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa

Synopsis

In recent decades, Christianity has acquired millions of new adherents in Africa, the region with the world's fastest-expanding population. What role has this development of evangelical Christianity played in Africa's democratic history? To what extent do its churches affect its politics? By taking a historical view and focusing specifically on the events of the past few years, Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa seeks to explore these questions, offering individual case studies of six countries: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique. Unlike most analyses of democracy which come from a secular Western tradition, these contributors, mainly younger scholars based in Africa, bring first-hand knowledge to their chapters and employ both field and archival research to develop their data and analyses. The result is a groundbreaking work that will be indispensable to everyone concerned with the future of this volatile region.

Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa is one of four volumes in the series Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in the Global South, which seeks to answer the question: What happens when a revivalist religion based on scriptural orthodoxy participates in the volatile politics of the Third World? At a time when the global-political impact of another revivalist and scriptural religion -- Islam -- fuels vexed debate among analysts the world over, these volumes offer an unusual comparative perspective on a critical issue: the often combustible interaction of resurgent religion and the developing world's unstable politics.

Excerpt

This volume is the product of an enlightened piece of academic encouragement. It emerges from the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians (INFEMIT) project for a three-continent study of evangelical Christianity and democracy. The project covers Asia, Latin America, and Africa, comprising seventeen case studies. I myself am not an evangelical and still less a theologian, but when I was asked to be the research advisor to the six African postdoctoral scholars, I agreed at once because the topic is an increasingly important one. Moreover, it was an excellent idea to offer to African postdoctoral scholars research funding, guaranteed publication, and provision of scarce books and articles. All too often, African academics virtually end their research careers with their doctoral thesis and their publication careers with a revision of their thesis. African academic salaries are low, little research funding is available, and it is difficult to publish scholarly work. It is also rare for African academics in one part of Africa to be in contact with scholars in other parts of the continent. The project’s funding of three workshops involving all the African researchers struck me as potentially very valuable.

So the research team was assembled: three women and three men, representing six different African nations. They came from varied religious backgrounds—Anglican, Catholic, humanist, pentecostal, and Presbyterian. They came from varying disciplines. But at the workshops they came together as a team, and discussions at these workshops were among the most intense, demanding, and rewarding of my academic life. These scholars are not propagandists for . . .

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