Monday, April 19, 2010

Mixing of religions in sub-Saharan Africa

Nidhal Guessoum and I were supposed to be in Istanbul right now for a meeting. But Iceland is really making life miserable for everyone. Really, what is the point of this particular volcanic island? Hawaii'an islands, at least have spectacular beaches - so we can tolerate its eruptions a bit more - but Iceland? C'mon. Plus, just to mess things up a bit more, they have given an unpronounceable name to the volcano: Eyjafjallajokull. Damn you Eyjafjallajokull!!

Back to the blog.

A new survey by the Pew Forum reveals sub-Saharan Africa to be very religious. The dominant religions are Christianity and Islam, but there is plenty of mixing with local religious traditions. Thus, witch doctors are in demand as much as regular religious prayers. The results from the survey are not entirely surprising - but the degree of religiosity is still quite striking:
The vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to the practices and major tenets of one or the other of the world's two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. Large majorities say they belong to one of these faiths, and, in sharp contrast with Europe and the United States, very few people are religiously unaffiliated. Despite the dominance of Christianity and Islam, traditional African religious beliefs and practices have not disappeared. Rather, they coexist with Islam and Christianity. Whether or not this entails some theological tension, it is a reality in people's lives: Large numbers of Africans actively participate in Christianity or Islam yet also believe in witchcraft, evil spirits, sacrifices to ancestors, traditional religious healers, reincarnation and other elements of traditional African religions.1
Here is a figure comparing religiosity in 19 sub-Saharan African countries and comparing it with data from various countries across the world (click on the image to see a less-blurry image - I couldn't fix it):
Here is a second figure about the belief in the protective power of sacrifices to spirits or ancestors - and we see a wide support here:

I don't know why places like Rwanda, Nigeria, Zambia, etc, have such lower numbers compared to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, especially because they don't really stand out from religiosity numbers.

Fascinating numbers. I could not help but remember another Pew study that showed that people in the US were mixing up religions by picking and choosing various aspects of different religious traditions. In Africa, however, the mixing has happened because of strong local cultural elements encountering large expansionist religions. Will more globalization bring more religions into the mix in Africa?

1 comment:

DM said...

the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…


they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

KABOOM…
______________________



with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...


they PAY THE PRICE FOR ATTACKING THE SUPERNATURAL -

with their LIVES...


CRYSTAL NIGHT TONIGHT!

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

visit:

http://www.clubconspiracy.com/forum/f30/does-ath-ism-have-future-no-11202.html#post66570




Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE


you're ANNIHILATED!