Magazine article Conscience

Editor's Note

Magazine article Conscience

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

AS THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WEIGHS SEVERAL FIRST AMENDMENT cases that fiercely challenge interpretations of religious freedom, it can seem that the question of how separate church and state should be is a uniquely American debate. But it is not, of course. The idea of a secular state--one in which the state is neutral on matters of religion and allows free exercise for all--is a definitive characteristic of American democracy, but it was merely imported from the European Enlightenment and has shaped political cultures around the world. In Africa, it has pre-colonial roots--many societies on the continent had forms ot government that separated shrine from state, the political from the sacred.

This latest issue of Conscience shares unique insights on the past, present and future of secularism in Africa and how it might inform policies that advance gender equality, reproductive rights and other human rights on the continent. As several of our writers illustrate, secularism in Africa is complicated by several factors, including the preponderance of missionizing religions as well as the involvement of religious elites in the politics and policymaking of many African states. In other words, how can you find a healthy balance between church and state when the church is often so strong and the state is often quite weak?

Our African contributors discuss both the importance of limiting the influence of religion on politics as well as the dangers of assuming that a secular state cannot leave room for religion altogether. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.