Governments throughout Africa employ religious slogans, symbols, and doctrine to advance their political interests and to undermine religiously inspired sources of violence. Different contexts and different state capacities produce different outcomes. States that intervene too frequently in the religious realm risk undermining religious authorities who are critical allies; too little regulation can create a vacuum that is exploited by violent actors. So how do states regulate religious spaces and for what purpose? How does the state approach differ when there is strong religious diversity among the population versus when there is a large religious majority?
Our panelists will discuss how different states in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa are approaching this issue and what contraints they face when exerting control over the religious realm.
This panel is part of the project Faith in the Balance which analyzes the distinct ways that the governments of Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya, and Burkina Faso attempt to manage religious affairs. The book aims to identify the objectives and consequences of state religious policies.
We are grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for its generous support of this study.