Democracy’s Devout Defenders

Issue Date October 2023
Volume 34
Issue 4
Page Numbers 51–65
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This article examines church activism for liberal democracy in sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades. The article seeks to explain churches’ high levels of activism compared to a) other civil society organizations, specifically trade unions, and b) churches’ varied commitments to democratic activism. The argument emphasizes the protections liberal-democratic institutions offer churches to spread their ideas without being curtailed by an all-powerful ruler. The extent to which churches need these protections depends on the degree to which their activities are vulnerable to appropriation by the state, with churches that have historically invested in schools as a method of evangelization being those most likely to advocate for liberal democracy.

About the Author

Kate Baldwin is associate professor of political science and global affairs at Yale University. She is currently completing a book entitled Democracy’s Devout Defenders: Churches, Education and Liberal Democracy in sub-Saharan Africa.

View all work by Kate Baldwin