Political scientist takes stock of the impact of the evangelical movement in Africa

The 25 last February, Cedric Mayrargue, political scientist specializing in Africa, associate researcher at LAM (Les Afriques du Monde), presents his analysis of evangelical movements in Africa, for the magazine Libération.

ty rise in power of the evangelical movement is not a new and sudden phenomenon. It began decades ago, in the 60s and 70s, with the first French and English speaking missionaries.

“While Islam is the focus of attention in Africa, there is growing interest in Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. By promoting individual development, this religious offer touches more or less all layers of the population. "

The Maghreb and the Sahelo-Saharan strip, strongly Islamized, are little affected by the evangelical phenomenon. In sub-Saharan Africa, we can see a different impact of the evangelical movement between English-speaking and French-speaking countries. For the first, the mission had been initiated by Protestants which, subsequently, favored the development of the evangelical movement, while in French-speaking countries, it was the Catholic Church which occupied the missionary field first. .

For the political scientist specializing in Africa, although the growth of the evangelical movement is real, we cannot speak of an “evangelical wave” on the scale of the continent. It manifests itself in a variable manner, sometimes in the form of neighborhood churches or houses, sometimes in the form of impressive mega-churches.

Contrary to popular belief, evangelical growth no longer occurs through European and American missionaries, although they are still represented alongside Brazilian and South Korean missionaries. According to Cédric Mayrargue, it is the large churches founded by African pastors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria or Ghana, which drive Christian expansion on the continent.

A particularity of the evangelical impact is that it affects the precarious populations as much as the middle classes and the elites. Certain heads of state, such as Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d'Ivoire or Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, also claim to be part of the evangelical faith.

The author of this study, however, contrasts his remarks concerning this expansion. He believes that the religious offer is more and more important in Africa, and the adhesion of the followers more and more labile and precarious, which could, in the long term, weaken the expansion of the evangelical movement.


Photo credit: Flickr-CreativeCommons - Nazarene Missions International

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