civil society

When Society is Not Civil: Threats to Religious Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa

By: Robert A. Dowd

As the Africa Summit gets underway, it is good for us to take stock of the state of religious freedom in sub-Saharan Africa today. While there is a long history of Christian-Muslim tolerance and accommodation in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, tensions between Christians and Muslims are on the rise in some parts of the region and religious freedom is under attack. It is important for sub-Saharan Africa’s leaders and those who have an interest in the future of religious freedom in the region to effectively weaken the forces of religious intolerance that have emerged. In order to do so, it is necessary to understand where the region’s religious intolerance is coming from and why those who would curtail religious freedom are attracting others to join them.

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Religious Freedom: The Foundation of Liberal Democracy

By: John J. Dilulio

For his day, Benjamin Franklin was a faithfully agnostic liberal democrat. He opposed religious oaths and qualifications for public office-holding. He warned about religious zeal fomenting factions. Still, Franklin preached against King George III during Sunday worship services at Philadelphia’s Christ Church. He gave money to every religious group in the city, Christian and other. Most sacred places, he reasoned, served civic purposes, including rendering citizens more “benevolent, useful and beneficial to others.” 

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