Sub-Saharan Africa has been the stage of numerous violent civil conflicts, which have almost always affected the church in one way or another. In some cases, the church has been directly victim of targeted persecution; in others, the church has indirectly suffered from persecution because of its vulnerable position in the context of civil conflicts.
This paper will explore the relationship between civil conflict and persecution, using the material of Open Doors’ World Watch List as a starting point, in relation to further research. Through the examination of five case studies, the following research questions will be discussed:
• How do civil unrest and war affect the religious freedom situation of the church in Africa?
• What role have the respective Christian communities played in those conflicts?
• Are they victims only or also perpetrators?
• What are they doing to defuse and help end these conflicts?
(1.) The first section of this paper will propose a general framework which offers an understanding of the relation of civil conflict and persecution. (2.) The nature of this relationship will then be explored empirically through five case studies: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Mali. (3.) The paper concludes with a synthesis of the main findings of these case studies.
Download the full paper here. Publication in Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, South Africa is forthcoming.