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date: 22 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

No other relationship in history has been more vetted and fraught with controversy than that between religion and politics. From societies as ancient as the Graeco-Roman world to the contemporary and relatively stable democratic societies, the role that religion and theology can and should play in shaping public lives has been contested and continually negotiated. Africa has experienced its fair share of this debate. Muslims, Christians, and adherents of the traditional religions are divided over the limits, if any, that should be imposed on their freedom and the scope of responsibility they should have in shaping political life, broadly construed. Their disagreement has spanned the long stretch of Africa's political history, and is rendered more complex by other streams of pluralism that are latent in Africa, including ethnicity, class, and region. In addition, the absence of common symbols of discourse deriving from the indigenous traditions with which to think and speak as Africans about the meaning of political reality and responsibility, coupled with the frequent destabilisation of the various political systems with which Africans have experimented, complicate the task of explaining the nature of the relationship between politics and any particular religious institution. It is against this backdrop of complex cultural and ideological pluralism that this article examines the relationship between Methodism and African politics.

Keywords: Methodists, Africans, African politics, religion

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