The troubled relationship of state and religion in Ertrea (Chapter 13 Vol 1)  AHRLJ 14
Finally, Volume IV collects work on `Religion, Development, and Security' to .. L. Selinger, `The Forgotten Factor: The Uneasy Relationship Between Religion. Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices and organizational forms of religion The works of Karl Marx and Max Weber emphasized the relationship between religion and the economic or social structure of society. . by monotheism led to the development of rational bookkeeping and the calculated pursuit of. A proper attitude to development that does not dismiss the idea of human the idea of religion to be considered, an idea which Leah Selinger calls “the forgotten 14 Leah Selinger, “The Forgotten Factor: The Uneasy Relationship Between.
As noted by Bozzini, the state in Eritrea is authoritarian, unaccountable, volatile and violent; and the political leadership is an all-powerful and capricious, ready to do whatever it can, at the cost of individual basic freedom including matters of intrinsically personal nature, such as religious creedin order to hold state power intact. The political leadership continues in power, despite its large de-legitimisation and widespread popular disapproval of its policies.
Our article is organised as follows. The current section is the introductory part. In the next section we provide a brief historical overview of the relationship between state and religion, starting from ancient history to the modern era. This provides a broad overview that fits the purpose of our research, particularly in the context of the two most dominant religions in Eritrea: In the third part, we discuss the troubled relationship between state and religion in Eritrea with the emphasis on the post-independence era.
However, in order to have a very comprehensive picture, we will touch briefly on the pre-independence history of the state-religion relationship in the country. The fourth part links the debate with the prevailing excessive state interference in religion, a practice which has become a major cause of unprecedented levels of religious persecution in the country.
In elaborating this challenge, we discuss a few representative case studies of religious persecution that is currently taking place in Eritrea. Finally, we conclude our article by summarising the main findings of our research. Even where states have adopted a state religion, its status is often only limited to some form of formal recognition, with much of the social role of religion or religious institutions having been taken over by the state. At the same time, it is important to understand that, while the separation of religion and state has never been practised in the world in its strictest sense, some studies in this area indicate that the principle receives greater recognition in democratic societies than in repressive ones.
Religion and Politics
Global overview As far as the church-state relationship is concerned, the most important point of departure is the era of the Greek and Roman empires, especially when Christianity was assigned the status of state church of the Roman empire, following a period of intense persecution.
This was particularly the case in the eastern parts of the Roman empire, where the emperor tended to rule over both church and state, heading church councils and deciding on theological controversies.
In the west, where the empire was declining, the Bishop of Rome was the single strongest figure, having usurped many prerogatives ascribed to both the church and the state. For example, the Lutherans and Calvinists aligned themselves with local and national political authorities in Northern Europe, thus encouraging the emergence of modern national communities. As such, the church-state issue was not resolved; rather, it was transformed from a tension between the Pope and the emperor to a tension between nations.
This led to religious wars with horrendous consequences across Europe and influenced the legal and cultural context of the United States as populations begun to emigrate to that part of the world.
Believed to be part of a letter 17 Jefferson sent to the Danbury Baptists Association, the phrase is very much associated with the religion clause of the American Constitution which, in its First Amendment, provides: Yet, it was only by the middle of the twentieth century that the religious clauses of the US Constitution were extensively interpreted by the US Supreme Court as the basis for a religiously pluralistic society, and even then the disentanglement was not straightforward due to controversies such as religious observance in public schools and the influence of religious groups on public policies.
Whilst the above description can serve as a useful framework for observing the relationship between church and the state, the following sub-sections will look at regional differences and the differences across religions in order to ensure a more comprehensive overview. Issues of governance are also resolved by making reference to the wisdom of the ummah community. In this case, religious and political values and religious and political offices were inseparable. The al-sahifah al-Medina the Constitution of Medina speaks of all of the significant tribes and families of Medina as forming one ummah community in order to act collectively in enforcing social order and security and defending against enemies.
The first disagreements that emerged within the Muslim community, which led to the eventual division of Islam, can thus be traced to this challenge. Islamic political theory took shape much later, subsequent to the historical development that it addressed, and indeed most major political concepts did not develop except during periods when the political institutions about which they were theorising were on the decline.
The concept of Islamic state emerged as a reaction and response to the demise of the last caliphate in Turkey in Saudi Arabia, the earliest contemporary Islamic state, is a monarchy. Iran, by contrast, is a republic with a constitution, a president, systems and institutions that are not particularly Islamic. Whilst this makes a definition of an Islamic state difficult, the failure of secular systems in many secular states in Muslim majority states always makes the idea of an Islamic state an alternative that many continue to contemplate.
The religious leaders of Africa have a lot of influence over the state through their connections across society and also due to the fact that religion is more rooted in society than state institutions that are relatively new and alien. There are many examples of positive changes that came out of this dynamic: However, religion has also played a key role in a number of occurrences that are a cause for concern, including the participation of some Roman Catholic priests in the Rwandan genocide and the vast network of organisations and individuals that are associated with Al Qaeda that led to the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
Pre-independence era The relationship between the state and religion in Eritrea is best understood in the context of the religious composition of Eritrean society, which is an example of religious pluralism. But Eritrea is not a land of only Christians and Muslims.
Often forgotten in mainstream discourse are adherents of indigenous belief systems, which include the veneration of ancestral saints and other supernatural forces or agencies. Under the category of Islam, the most dominant segment is Islam of the Sunni rite. Wahhabism, which is regarded as a conservative branch of Sunni Islam, is also practised in Eritrea.
Some reports indicate that Judaism is also practised in Eritrea, albeit in a very small or insignificant proportion compared to other religions. There have been varying stages in the relationship between the state and religion throughout in the politico-legal history of Eritrea.
Due to the size and long history of the two most dominant religions in the country, Christianity and Islam, we believe they can be used as the two most important reference points from which the relationship of the state and religion and can be assessed.
The latter indigenous belief system is plausibly the eldest and the most persistent religion in Eritrea, practised up to the present time, albeit in a very insignificant proportion.
Segments of the Kunama ethnic group are the best known adherents of indigenous belief system in Eritrea. Antiquity is a distinctive feature of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, which was very strongly influenced by the other oldest African Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Citing other sources, historian Uoldelul Chelati Dirar traces the introduction of Orthodox Christianly into Eritrea to CE, a time which is known as the early apostolic era.
As a result, the Orthodox Church always maintained a very close relationship with the ruling class, particularly with the kings and emperors of Abyssinia.
This long history of a strong relationship between the Orthodox Church and state was further strengthened in the mids as can be gleaned from the following observation of historian Tricia Redeker Hepner: The collusion of church and state entrenched the cultural, political, and religious dominance of highland peoples, surrounded by a vast and feared Muslim periphery.
The regional, economic, and religious division of the empire into sedentary, highland Orthodox Christians and pastoralist, lowland Muslims and animists characterized both Ethiopia and its northern province of Eritrea. What followed was an elevated rank of the Orthodox Church, compared to other religions. During this time, the status of the Orthodox Church was equivalent to a state religion, particularly in the highlands of Abyssinia which also included parts of Eritreawhere this particular religion was practised predominantly.
With reference to the ancient Abyssinian state, which also includes parts of Eritrea, Abbink says that Christianity has never been officially prescribed as a state religion. Such has been the practice until the downfall of the last Ethiopian emperor, Haile Sellassie I, in Ever since the role and function of the Orthodox Church have dwindled considerably. But in both countries, Eritrea and Ethiopia, the church still remains the biggest Christian denomination.
A very important aspect of Christianity in Eritrea is that of the history of Catholicism and Protestantism. While the history of the Catholic Church in the region is traced to the early s, the Protestant church landed in Eritrea only ina time which also marked the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries, later followed by Lazarists. According to Hepner, the arrival of the Catholic Church in Eritrea can be described as an enabling step for Italian colonial rule. Eritrea was officially declared an Italian colony only inat least half a century after the arrival of Catholic missionaries.
However, the arrival of the Catholic missionaries has played a crucial role in accomplishing a successful Italian settlement policy. This was evident, according to Dirar, from the level of understanding that was reached, as in so many other missionary scenarios, between the Italian state and the Catholic Church, via its Congregation of Propaganda Fide, the main missionary body of the church.
This agreement is believed to have finally led to the substitution of the French Lazarist fathers, the first Catholic missionaries in Eritrea sent by the Vatican, by the Italian Capuchin fathers in This process was finalized with the expulsion, inof all French Lazarist Fathers from the territory of the colony.
After the Italianization of the mission, the Associazione nazionale played a crucial role in trying to make the settlement policy successful. It became directly involved in the selection of candidates from the Italian countryside and, in some cases, even covered part of their initial expenses. A very important point in this debate is that, during the Italian colonial era, the Eritrean Orthodox Church also fell out of favour with the Italian colonial state machinery, mostly because of the fact that the Italians were chiefly Catholic.
On the other hand, during the pre- and post-Italian era, the Eritrean Catholic Church never enjoyed the kind of close contact its Orthodox counterpart enjoyed with old state structures in Eritrea, except for its brief empowerment by the Italian colonial state.
Nonetheless, throughout the Italian colonial era and after it, the Eritrean Catholic Church grew considerably in the number of its followers. Its expansion was further consolidated in the aftermath of the border conflict with Ethiopia.
The following long quotation from Dirar provides a very clear picture of the arrival of Islam in Eritrea: It is significant that in this tradition, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad is traditionally dated to the year This is known as the year of the Elephant because of an Abyssinian military expedition against Mecca led by King Abreha, which included battalions with elephants and ended with the defeat of the invader due to a sudden outbreak of smallpox.
Later, following the inception of persecution against the then small community of Muslim believers in Mecca, a group which included one of the daughters of the Prophet was sent to the Abyssinian shores of the Red Sea seeking asylum.
The time when the first escapees from Mecca arrived in Aksum is known as the first Hijra or migration and it is believed to have taken in the year CE. In spite of this long history, it never attained the level of support that Christianity enjoyed from state structures, particularly in the era of Abyssinian monarchs. While this observation may hold true for the highlands of Eritrea, which remain predominantly Christian, in the lowlands Islam has always been a dominant religion, regulating every aspect of life, even in the absence of a centralised state or other political institutions.
There is, however, one important stage in the spread of Islam in Eritrea and Ethiopia that is vital for our understanding of some aspects of the relationship between Islam and Christianity. This is the campaign launched by Ahmed Ibrahim known as Gragn left-handed in the sixteenth century, a campaign which has been characterised as a full scale jihad and was accompanied by widespread havoc and destruction of a great number of centres of Abyssinian Orthodox civilisation.
With a stated aim of rooting out Christianity, this campaign had far-reaching ramifications which shaped Christian perceptions of Islam in the region. The impact of this sentiment was particularly visible during the era of the liberation struggle and the immediately preceding years.
At this time, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was regarded as a helper in the legitimisation of Ethiopian rule in Eritrea. A common feature of the two religions is their long history in Eritrea, dating back to antiquity. For example, the Afar and Rashaida ethnic groups are entirely Muslim societies, with no traces of Christianity within their communities.
Post-independence era In the post-independence era there has never been an officially-prescribed state religion in Eritrea. This is the most relevant law in Eritrea as far religious matters are concerned. The Religious Proclamation starts by recognising the right to freedom of belief and conscience, which the Preamble describes as one of the main justifications for the promulgation of the law.
In the second sentence of the Preamble, which is another underlying principle of the Religious Proclamation, the law provides that the state and religion should exist separately. While the preclusion of religious institutions from political matters can be seen by some as controversial, it would have been more than enough if the government respected its own self-restraint provisions, which proscribed it from interfering in religious affairs.
Conversely, the Eritrean government now interferes in religious affairs beyond what can be described as a desirable instance of intervention, thereby making Eritrea one of the worst places in the world in terms of religious freedom.
Nonetheless, there is a very clear pattern of intensification of unwarranted interference, and this is related to the momentous growth of Pentecostalism in the aftermath of the border war with Ethiopia.
Development and Religion - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies
As noted by Mekonnen and Van Reisen, this period has seen a revival of Pentecostalism in Eritrea that was intolerable to the government for a number of reasons. While Hepner notes that the government remedied its archaic position on religion in its congress, the recent repression of religious freedom signals a relapse to the old position.
This takes us to the next section, which discusses some prominent case studies of religious persecution that we believe are the outcome of excessive state interference in religious affairs. Generally speaking, the relationship between Eritrean religious communities has predominantly been one of accommodation and compromise, not of antagonism and strife.
To a certain extent, this also holds true about the relationship of the state and religion. In recent history, the only such major instance was the Eritrean Civil War of the s and s, which is sometimes discussed as a conflict involving religious animosity, even though there has never been consensus on its real and underlying causes. In the post-independence era, the country saw a brief respite between and when fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of religion and worship, were in part respected.
This does not mean, however, that there were no instances of religious persecution during this time. The crisis of religious persecution reached disproportionate levels afterwhen the government ordered the closure of all but the following religious groups: Verbit 's contribution was a twenty four-dimensional religiosity measure which includes measuring religiosity through six different "components" of religiosity: Secularization and Civil religion In relation to the processes of rationalization associated with the development of modernityit was predicted in the works of many classical sociologists that religion would decline.
In the United States, in particular, church attendance has remained relatively stable in the past 40 years. In Africa, the emergence of Christianity has occurred at a high rate. While Africa could claim roughly 10 million Christians inrecent estimates put that number closer to million. Furthermore, arguments may be presented regarding the concept of civil religion and new world belief systems.
For instance, some sociologists have argued that steady church attendance and personal religious belief may coexist with a decline in the influence of religious authorities on social or political issues. Additionally, regular attendance or affiliation do not necessarily translate into a behaviour according to their doctrinal teachings. In other words, numbers of members might still be growing, but this does not mean that all members are faithfully following the rules of pious behaviours expected.
In that sense, religion may be seen as declining because of its waning ability to influence behaviour. Religious economy[ edit ] According to Rodney StarkDavid Martin was the first contemporary sociologist to reject the secularization theory outright. Martin even proposed that the concept of secularization be eliminated from social scientific discourse, on the grounds that it had only served ideological purposes and because there was no evidence of any general shift from a religious period in human affairs to a secular period.
Correspondingly, the more religions a society has, the more likely the population is to be religious. This points to the falsity of the secularization theory.
Sociology of religion - Wikipedia
On the other hand, Berger also notes that secularization may be indeed have taken hold in Europe, while the United States and other regions have continued to remain religious despite the increased modernity. Berger suggested that the reason for this may have to do with the education system; in Europe, teachers are sent by the educational authorities and European parents would have to put up with secular teaching, while in the United States, schools were for much of the time under local authorities, and American parents, however unenlightened, could fire their teachers.
Berger also notes that unlike Europe, America has seen the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, or "born-again Christians". Wilson is a writer on secularization who is interested in the nature of life in a society dominated by scientific knowledge. His work is in the tradition of Max Weber, who saw modern societies as places in which rationality dominates life and thought.
Weber saw rationality as concerned with identifying causes and working out technical efficiency, with a focus on how things work and with calculating how they can be made to work more effectively, rather than why they are as they are. According to Weber, such rational worlds are disenchanted.
Existential questions about the mysteries of human existence, about who we are and why we are here, have become less and less significant. Wilson  insists that non-scientific systems — and religious ones in particular — have experienced an irreversible decline in influence.Katherine Marshall on Religions and Development
He has engaged in a long debate with those who dispute the secularization thesis, some of which argue that the traditional religions, such as church-centered ones, have become displaced by an abundance of non-traditional ones, such as cults and sects of various kinds. Others argue that religion has become an individual, rather than a collective, organized affair. Still others suggest that functional alternatives to traditional religion, such as nationalism and patriotism, have emerged to promote social solidarity.
Wilson does accept the presence of a large variety of non-scientific forms of meaning and knowledge, but he argues that this is actually evidence of the decline of religion. The increase in the number and diversity of such systems is proof of the removal of religion from the central structural location that it occupied in pre-modern times.
Ernest Gellner[ edit ] Unlike Wilson and Weber, Ernest Gellner  acknowledges that there are drawbacks to living in a world whose main form of knowledge is confined to facts we can do nothing about and that provide us with no guidelines on how to live and how to organize ourselves.
In this regard, we are worse off than pre-modern people, whose knowledge, while incorrect, at least provided them with prescriptions for living. However, Gellner insists that these disadvantages are far outweighed by the huge technological advances modern societies have experienced as a result of the application of scientific knowledge. Gellner doesn't claim that non-scientific knowledge is in the process of dying out.
For example, he accepts that religions in various forms continue to attract adherents. He also acknowledges that other forms of belief and meaning, such as those provided by art, music, literature, popular culture a specifically modern phenomenondrug taking, political protest, and so on are important for many people. Nevertheless, he rejects the relativist interpretation of this situation — that in modernity, scientific knowledge is just one of many accounts of existence, all of which have equal validity.
This is because, for Gellner, such alternatives to science are profoundly insignificant since they are technically impotent, as opposed to science. He sees that modern preoccupations with meaning and being as a self-indulgence that is only possible because scientific knowledge has enabled our world to advance so far. Unlike those in pre-modern times, whose overriding priority is to get hold of scientific knowledge in order to begin to develop, we can afford to sit back in the luxury of our well-appointed world and ponder upon such questions because we can take for granted the kind of world science has constructed for us.
Michel Foucault[ edit ] Michel Foucault was a post-structuralist who saw human existence as being dependent on forms of knowledge — discourses — that work like languages. In order to think at all, we are obliged to use these definitions. The knowledge we have about the world is provided for us by the languages and discourses we encounter in the times and places in which we live our lives.
Thus, who we are, what we know to be true, and what we think are discursively constructed. Foucault defined history as the rise and fall of discourses.
Social change is about changes in prevailing forms of knowledge.