Proclaiming Political Pluralism: Churches And Political Transitions In Africa

Hardcover | September 1, 2001

byIsaac Phiri

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As the population of Africa increasingly converts to Christianity, the church has stepped up its involvement in secular affairs revolving around the transition to democracy in nations such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Comparative in approach, the author analyzes patterns of church-state relations in various sub-Saharan countries, and contends that churches become more active and politically prominent when elements and organizations of civil society are repressed by political factors or governing bodies, providing services to maintain the well-being of civil society in the absence of those organizations being repressed. The author concludes, that once political repression subsides, churches tend to withdraw from a confrontation with the state and their political role becomes unclear. This unique book advances the idea that in pluralist Africa, churches should focus their influence and resources on nurturing the fragile multiparty democracies and promoting peace and reconciliation. In his analysis of church-state relations in sub-Saharan Africa, Phiri shows how churches are drawn into confrontation with the state by the repression of civil society and that once civil society is liberated, direct church-state confrontation diminishes. In South Africa, churches led by figures such as Bishop Desmond Tutu assumed a major role after nationalist movements such as Nelson Mandela's African National Congress were banned and their leaders jailed. In Zimbabwe, the church assumed a confrontational role in 1965 after political movements were banned and their leaders exiled. In Zambia, churches became confrontational when the single-party rule repressed all opposition and supported the riseof the prodemocracy movement that ended Kenneth Kaunda's twenty-seven-year rule. Examining these situations and others in different parts of Africa, Phiri illuminates the major issues and conflicts and suggests ways in which the church can continue to help promote smooth transitions to democracy.

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From the Publisher

As the population of Africa increasingly converts to Christianity, the church has stepped up its involvement in secular affairs revolving around the transition to democracy in nations such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Comparative in approach, the author analyzes patterns of church-state relations in various sub-Saharan countr...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9.38 × 6.43 × 0.74 inPublished:September 1, 2001Publisher:Praeger PublishersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275972143

ISBN - 13:9780275972141

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?This book affirms the political contribution of the Christian church as an important factor in terms of participatory stabilization and/or activism in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Phiri's idealism of promoting peace and love through the churches in Africa should be applauded. A bibliography with more that two hundred and twenty entries of books and articles following the five chapters is extensive. This will be a great resource for all who are interested in further studies in church-state relations in Africa in general and the the countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in particular.??African Studies Quarterly