Religious Conflict in Nigeria

A wide angle view of Nigeria and religion emerges from religious scholars and Nigeria experts gathered in a symposium to discuss the current religious climate. The Episcopal Church has been focused on the Church of Nigeria in the Anglican Communion. It is helpful to see the Anglican Church in the context of its religious neighbors. Six out of ten Christians identify as Pentecostal. While Muslims for the most part tolerate Roman Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals, the Pentecostal emphasis on conversion has put them in conflict with Muslims and other Christian groups.

The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a symposium on religious conflict in Nigeria, May 8, 2007. The symposium offers insight into what is called “the most intensely religious population in the world.” The panelists examined the political compromises that maintain relative stability in Nigeria.

Before independence about 30% of the population were neither Christian nor Muslim. Currently Christianity claims growth from 21% in 1950 to 48% today. Now about 1% belong to neither faith and about 51% are Muslim. Recent elections revealed widespread rigging and irregularities but did not cause religious or ethnic strife.

Other findings included:

*There is not as much religious conflict as one might expect.

*When religious conflicts do arise, they often have political or economic roots.

*There are many different “brands” within each faith.

*The rise of religion can be directly linked to the weakness of the Nigerian state.

*Religion is only one of many Nigerian identities

*There is no religious component to conflict in the Niger Delta. (contrary to US press reports)

*However, oil wealth plays a role in religious tensions.

*The political system is designed to mitigate religious and ethnic conflict.

*The political system suffers from a crisis of governance as well as power sharing.

The summary of the symposium is HERE in pdf.

Transcripts and video and audio of the entire symposium can be found HERE

Past Posts