State Regulation of the Activities of Faith-Based Organizations in African Countries in the Late 20th — Early 21st Centuries: Macro-Regional Tendencies
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State Regulation of the Activities of Faith-Based Organizations in African Countries in the Late 20th — Early 21st Centuries: Macro-Regional Tendencies
Publication type
Ivan Zakharov 
Affiliation: Institute for African Studies RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The article focuses on reasons and manifestations of restrictive policies on the operation of religious and faith-based organizations (FBO) on the example of Africa. The problem is regarded as a result of (1) intensification of religious competition during the transformation of the African religious landscape, and (2) developing self-reliance and efficiency of religious organizations and FBO’s throughout the implementation of the “humanitarian” or “civilizing” mission. The later allowed some of these organizations to take place of the key economic and political actors in the region in the end of the 20th century. The research combines quantitative and qualitative methods of geography of religion, history, political science, and incorporates a vast number of sources. It allowed to reveal shifts in the Africa religious landscape’s structure in 1910–2010; to assess the scale of “humanitarian” mission; to evaluate the legislative framework for the operation of religious organizations and FBO’s in African countries and actual restrictions applied to them. Established, that the change of historical context of religious organizations’ activities and their interaction with the authorities in the end of the 20th century manifested itself in the stricter control on the operation of organizations affiliated with religion. This claim supported by the evidence from countries of North Africa, Sudan-Sahel Corridor, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, etc. Governments always declare that restrictive measures are implemented due to the need to treat their citizens, but in reality, it may also pursue other aims, such as: to support of certain religions (religious favoritism), to gain or re-establish state’s monopoly of the exercise of public authority, including through the counter radical groups, which affiliate themselves with a religion. However, restrictive policies have also impacted religious organizations and FBO’s that provide essential services for the large number of vulnerable communities. Such practices may have disruptive consequences on the socio-economic and political development of the continent.

Africa, religious competition, religious landscape, religious policy, humanitarian mission, faith-based organizations, religious freedom
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The article was prepared within the project ‘Post-crisis world order: challenges and technologies, competition and cooperation’ supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement № 075-15-2020-783).
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