The Importance of Building and Sustaining a Culture of Religious Freedom: Lessons from Nigeria and Kenya

By Fr. Robert Dowd

Through my own research on how Christians in northeastern Nigeria and coastal-northeastern Kenya have responded to attacks by Boko Haram and al-Shabaab respectively, it has become clear to me that religious freedom is not something that a state’s constitution can guarantee. As important as constitutional guarantees are, religious freedom will only be realized in reality if there is a culture of religious freedom.  Such a culture is based on mutual respect and that is best realized through interaction and ongoing dialogue between members (and not just leaders) of different religious groups. A culture of religious freedom makes religious persecution practically unthinkable for most people. 

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