Challenges and Solutions within Transportation and Logistics Management Congo Brazzaville’s stagnant political landscape has highly affected religious practices. Unlike other African nations where they have been immense changes in the religious sector, Congo Brazzaville’s worshipping tendencies have slight deviations as compared to those in the initial years after independence. Congo Brazzaville gained independence in 1960 (Batota-Mpeho 136). However, the nation’s political state has faced a few changes. The current leadership has stayed in power since 1979 (Batota-Mpeho 149). With such a situation, it demonstrates that the people are used to one form of leadership style since independence. Similarly, this also reflects the case with the religious sector. Immediately after independence, many of the people in the Congo Brazzaville embraced Christianity and Indigenous religions. Considerably, the trend has prevailed even in the current society although there is an introduction of Islam. Nevertheless, this conservative perspective of Congo Brazzaville’s religious setting is likely to change in future because of political, social, and economic transformations.
Statistics on the Republic of Congo Brazzaville’s Religious Composition
Congo Brazzaville post-independence statistics reveal the consistency of religious affiliations. According to reports, 50% of the people in Congo Brazzaville are Christians, 48% subscribe to Indigenous religions, and the remaining 2% are Muslims (“United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor” 2). Similarly, 90% of Christians are Roman Catholics (“United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor” 2). Noticeably, the Catholic Church allows syncretic practices. In this case, there are those Catholics in Congo Brazzaville that combine traditional and church beliefs and practices. However, the conventional tendencies that are allowed in the church do not deviate from the cultures that define the Catholic doctrine. The remaining 10% of the Christian population subscribe to mainstream churches such as Anglican and other denominations that believe in the tenets of Christianity. (“United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor”2). As such, there are few Pentecostal Christian in the nation.
Religious statistics depict the social and economic denotations of Congo. Importantly, the report by “United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor” indicates that immigrants from North and West African nations introduced Islamic religion (2). Congo Brazzaville is among the countries in Africa that have Oil and other precious mineral deposits. As such, because of liberalization and political stability, many foreigners visit the nation to trade or work in the mines. Considering the geographical position of the country, this makes it easy for the North and West Africans to prefer it and this defines the emerging Islamic population in Congo Brazzaville.
The religious statistics in Congo Brazzaville are highly affected by ethnicity. For example, most of the people from the Teke community that lives in the forests, and are believed to be uncivilized adhere to Indigenous practices. As such, they still subscribe to the traditional beliefs and most of the population that still believes in the African ways of worshipping. Among the Teke community, animism is common as the community believes in the power of natural phenomena such as trees, animals, and particular inanimate objects. Noticeably, this demonstrates their continued attachment to the forest life (Ekoungoulou et al. 840). Other communities such as the Bakongo, Sangha, and M’Bochi are predominantly Christians and majorities of them are Catholics. The indigenous communities have adopted Christianity due to Modernism and civilization.
The Legal Framework in Congo Brazzaville on Religion
Congo Brazzaville is among the nations whose laws support freedom of worship. According to the country’s constitution, there is no national religion hence the people enjoy the freedom of worship. The state neither through its agents nor through non-governmental institutions is allowed to limit how people worship in Congo Brazzaville (“United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor” 3). However, the law requires that the religious organizations to register with the relevant state organizations before commencing their activities in the country. Further, religious activities are also supported by the fact that the country’s constitution supports the freedom of assembly and association. As such, this means that despite one’s religious affiliation, there are no restrictions on how they worship in Congo Brazzaville.
The Church and Politics in Congo Brazzaville
Although the constitution declares that the state does not control the church, the role of latter in the politics of Congo Brazzaville has been immense. Since independence, the activities of the Catholic Church have had some influence on the outcome of specific political events. For instance, immediately after independence, President Fulbert Youlou who was a Catholic faced criticism with how he treated the syncretic Catholics (Batota-Mpeho 134). The president felt that the syncretic Catholics were a threat to his rule and decided to use the military in silencing these Catholics. Because of the issue, he became unpopular, and the public considered President Youlou untrustworthy. The Catholic Church has been consistent with criticizing the rule of President Denis Sassou Nguesso (Batota-Mpeho 289). Through the Bishop Episcopal Conference, the church leaders have been addressing various governmental issues in Congo Brazzaville. For instance, they have highlighted problems such as increasing national debts. In addition, the bishops of the church have expressed concerns about corruption and the subsequent rise in the cost of living.
The role of other Pentecostal churches and the indigenous belief religious formations regarding political issues is not recognizable. However, Batota-Mpeho indicates that most of the ethnic communities that adhere to Catholicism have political power as compared to those in Pentecostal churches and Indigenous religious affiliations in Congo Brazzaville (104). Because of this, most Catholics are politically active. For instance, the Teke community adheres to the indigenous belief religion; for this reason, they are among the insignificant political communities in Congo Brazzaville. In addition, in the country, many Muslims are foreigners, and as such, this makes them not to be active in the politics of the country.
The Future of Religion in Congo Brazzaville
Congo Brazzaville’s religious orientation is likely to change from the current composition. Because of the political involvement, the Catholic Church has been under threat from the politicians. For instance, the Catholic Bishops have complained that the politicians have been funding the Pentecostal churches in Congo Brazzaville (Batota-Mpeho 289). As such, this might affect the population that subscribes to Catholicism.
The other factor about Congo Brazzaville’s religious composition relates to the increased charity work. Many of the Pentecostal churches have access to donors who channel funds to support charitable activities in Congo. As indicated, the cost of living in the country is unsustainable for low-cost families. Because of this, many of the people cannot sustain some of their essential needs. With this situation, they rely on charity work from the Pentecostal churches, and this is likely to make these people change their religious affiliation if they were either Catholics or from the Indigenous ones.
The Muslims as indicated they are mainly foreigners from North and West Africa. However, this is also likely to change. The interaction of these Muslims with the natives of Congo Brazzaville may create alterations in the religious statistics in the country. Some of these foreigners may inter-marry with the Congolese people and lead to conversion of religion. Therefore, the issue of Islam will not be predominantly associated with foreigners by also the natives.
The issue of modernity is a factor that may affect the future of the religion in Congo Brazzaville. Indigenous communities such as the Teke have a close association between the forests and their religious beliefs. Currently, the educated population strive to embrace civilization and this might reduce the population of the indigenous believers.
Congo Brazzaville has had a defined post-independence religious alienation, but this is likely to be altered. Reports reveal that since independence the country is religious description has been the same for a while. The Christians have been a dominant religious formation; however, majorities of them are Catholics. Another category is that of indigenous believers. Lastly, there is the Islamic population that comprises 2% of the people in Congo Brazzaville and many of them are immigrants from North and West Africa. On national issues, the Catholic Church has been vocal on matters relating to governance and this has made the Catholic Church be popular with the public. However, political factors, the charity work of the Pentecostal churches and the inter-marriages of Muslim foreigners with natives might alter the religious environment in Congo Brazzaville in terms of composition.
Batota-Mpeho, Rufin. From Political Monolithism to Multiparty Autocracy: The Collapse of the Democratic Dream in Congo-Brazzaville. Lulu Com, 2015.
Ekoungoulou, R., et al. “Assessing the effectiveness of protected areas on floristic diversity in tropical forests.” Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 16.1 (2018): 837-853.
United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Republic of The Congo 2016 International Religious Freedom Report. 2016, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/268882.pdf. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.