Religious and Political Ethics in Africa: A Moral Inquiry

Religious and Political Ethics in Africa: A Moral Inquiry

Religious and Political Ethics in Africa: A Moral Inquiry

Religious and Political Ethics in Africa: A Moral Inquiry

Synopsis

This volume investigates the causes of the political, economic, and moral problems of today's Africa and provides a framework for the reconstruction of modern African states. The author focuses on the interaction between religion and politics throughout history and on the role of the Church in postcolonial Africa. In order to develop a basis for African political and religious ethics, he uses an interdisciplinary approach that draws from political theory, history, and social and religious ethics. Among the issues discussed are ethnicity, mismanagement, corruption, and the African concept of power.

Excerpt

One of the most difficult issues confronting the modern nation-state is the role organized religion can play in politics, or rather to what extent, if any, can religion or religious authorities be involved in state affairs or influence government policies. This is an age old debate on the relation between religion and the state. the issue has been a topic of public debate mostly in the West as the question of the relationship between church and state, but the topic also arises in other parts of the world and with other religions such as Islam and Hinduism. the topic involves many issues: state support of religious observances and holidays; state funding of religious institutions such as schools, hospitals, orphanages, etcetera; the state paying salaries of clerics and other church officials; legislation affecting particular religious and moral teachings; and others. These issues must be seen in the light of the rights of individuals to free assembly and worship, but also free expression. the state's guarantee of religious liberty implies guarantee of religious pluralism. Above all, the independence of the modern nation-state, which is often secular, raises the question of what role religion has in politics.

Several issues emerge when considering the relation between organized religion and the state: secularization, individual rights, and pluralism. As society becomes more and more secular, the marginalization of religion from the public arena becomes the norm and the attempt by religion to assert its influence, moral or otherwise, on society is regarded as an intrusion into public life. With secularization, religion becomes a private matter with no impact whatsoever on public moral discourse. the question of religious influence becomes even more difficult in a secular state where religious pluralism must be maintained. Neither can the state nor the general public . . .

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