Religion Politics and Ethics: Moral and Ethical Dilemmas Facing Faith-Based Organizations and Africa in the 21st Century


Religion plays a predominant role in African spiritual worldview and belief systems. However, this intense affinity for religion has often been exploited in an unethical manner by political demagogues, religionists, and other ‘surrogates with interests of their own’. Africans religious proclivity were often misused as a pretext for colonization or perpetuation of poor leadership and governance in African states, by introducing dominant foreign religions and ideology into traditional African societies. These interference with the African cultural ethos led to ‘things falling apart’ with abandonment of the African spiritual worldview. This paper argues that in this season of anomie, characterized by failure of the usual social and ethical standards in many African states, it may be time for Africans to embark on a journey of spiritual rediscovery regarding the African moral and existential philosophies of good character, tolerance, brotherhood, and communalism; exemplified by the philosophy of Ubuntu, lately replaced by the Western tradition of rugged individualism and sometimes the extremist ideology of annihilation of ‘the other’. One could argue that Western intellectual tradition has introduced modern technologies and development to Africa, contrarily, the natural affinity to religion and need for developmental aid, predicated by poor leadership and corruption, should not be used as an excuse for religious hegemony or re-colonization of the African mind, through the mechanism of faith-based organizations (FBOs), which have re-emerged as new partners in international development. This may stall the advance of democratic ideals and perpetuate the cycles of underdevelopment, poverty, and marginalization of African peoples.

Author Information
Sylvester Chima, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2017
Stream: Philosophy - Philosophy and Religion

This paper is part of the ACERP2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon