Religion and politics have been inexorably tied in Africa for centuries. Both Muslim and Christian movements have a history of pressuring governments on a range of social and political demands, including human rights and good governance. In countries where politics are characterized by corruption, repression, and discrimination, religious movements distinguish themselves by claiming moral authority. At the same time, governments are increasingly wading into religious affairs as they seek to silence dissent and amplify voices of religious authorities who legitimize their policies.

Faith in the Balance argues that state intervention and management of religious affairs are fundamentally aimed at expanding state powers and undermining political opposition rather than promoting a specific religious dogma or set of beliefs. Given the appeal and importance of religion as a political tool, governments cannot afford to ignore it. Finding the right balance is an urgent task, because how states manage and intervene in religious affairs has far-reaching consequences for politics, security, and social stability in Africa.
This chapter is part of Faith in the Balance: Regulating Religious Affairs in Africa.