Around 2 million people in Congo are Catholics. Both Protestant and Catholic missions in the Belgian Congo were part and parcel of the imperial enterprise. The first nationwide Congolese political party, the Congo National Movement, was launched in 1958 by Patrice Lumumba and other Congolese leaders. Like abolitionism and Christian missions, the humanitarian ideal of religious freedom could serve as a benevolent rationale for colonialism. Named after the enormous Congo River and the large ethnic group living at its mouth, the Kongo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo first had its borders drawn at the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. ‘“Protestantism in the Congo.’”. The need to guard against Catholic attacks and colonial suspicions made these Protestants equally compliant and sometimes even eager agents of the Belgian Empire. The simple definition of “darkness” is the lack of presence of light. After the war, these missionary ideals and interests helped shape the new global order that emerged through the League of Nations and the treaties negotiated at Versailles in 1919. 22 Kabongo-Mbaya, L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre, 25. In 1921 the Baptist Simon Kimbangu led a brief healing ministry in the western Bas-Congo region, where the British Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) had been active since the 1890s. The official Belgian attitude was paternalism: Africans were to be cared for and trained as if they were children. These benevolent goals helped convince the assembled powers to recognize his authority over the Congo. Another big reason the Belgians wanted to control the Congo was because they wanted to spread the religion … Their goals were to constrain the extrajudicial violence of colonial officials and Catholic missionaries, and to gain equal status for their own missions in the civilizing work of the Belgian Empire. And once again these protections functioned less to challenge the colonial system than to stabilize it and provide a humanitarian rationale for its continued existence. The humanitarian outrage against this movement had a compelling rationale and Congolese support on the ground. In the colonial period, Belgian missionaries established Catholic seminaries in the villages of Lemfu and Mayidi and built mission churches and schools throughout Lower Congo. Pendant les 52 ans de la période coloniale, le Congo belge fut géré de Bruxelles, mais avec son armée, la Force publique, sous l'autorité d'un gouverneur général. “The thriving of Protestantism in mission countries is always accompanied by the rising desires towards liberating independence,” the editors warned. 39 Mokoko Gampiot and Coquet-Mokoko, Kimbanguism, 72–74. Despite their complaints about Belgian rule, few if any missionaries in the Congo believed that the native Christians were prepared for independence or even for autonomous churches. 48 Henri Anêt, “Le Massacreur du Katanga,” Congo Mission News (Apr. Members of both Catholic and Protestant lay associations, including AMIPRO, were active in the anti-colonial struggle and took key government positions in the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo.Footnote 79 Congolese Christians took full advantage of the educational and leadership opportunities that church affiliation provided under the colonial system. 10 Mahmood, Saba, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), 3CrossRefGoogle Scholar. At a 1918 CCC meeting, missionaries fretted over the power held by “large concessionaire companies … over the native population and over their lands.” The Belgian government had granted these companies virtually free rein over Congolese labor in the rubber industry. This bust was sculpted two years before Ngagi's death and continues to be a popular place to pose for pictures in the 100-acre zoo that is home to over 3,500 rare and endangered animals. Lorsque Marien Ngouabi (1938-1977) remplace manu militari Massamba-Débat (1968) l’option socialiste est réaffirmée : la République populaire du Congo est née. Roman Catholicism is the most widely practiced form of Christianity with over 33% of the total population adhering to its beliefs and teachings. African resistance challenged the colonial regime from the beginning. Monday, Aug. 01, 1960. Motivated by Pius, the CPC alleged, the Catholic Party in Belgium was manipulating the Ministry of the Colonies to gain “religious domination, even monopoly, in Congo.”Footnote 63. The colonial secularisms tracked in this essay thus set the stage for the complexity of church-state relations that would persist in the turbulent postcolonial history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mine workers went on strike in Jadotville (Likasi) and Élisabethville (Lubumbashi) in southern Belgian Congo on December 3-10, 1941. No, not … In June 1921 Kimbangu himself was arrested but escaped amid a rioting crowd. Along with the Catholic priests, it blamed the misapplication of colonial law by a few bigoted officials.Footnote 68 Implicitly, the CPC identified any Congolese anti-government and anti-Church attitudes, which Catholics attributed to libre examen, as an understandable reaction to brutal treatment at the hands of the priests. Both Protestant and Catholic missionaries reacted by elaborating models of church and state that were meant to quell anti-colonial sentiment. Malgré la capitulation de la Belgique, le Congo resta dans le conflit aux côtés des Alliés, et fut administré par le gouvernement belge en exil, et fournit des matières premières indispensables, notamment de l'or et de l'uranium, à la Grande-Bretagne et au… Feeding this dynamic were the cultural, linguistic, and political divisions within Belgian society, which had three “pillars”—Catholic, Liberal, and Socialist—each with its political party, trade unions, newspapers, charities, and clubs.Footnote 18 All three parties sought to heal the nation's internal divides by inviting Belgians to unify behind the national project of colonization. 18 Laqua, Daniel, The Age of Internationalism and Belgium, 1889–1930: Peace, Progress, and Prestige (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 82–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar. King Leopold II of the Belgians persuaded the government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely unexplored Congo Basin. Share. The remaining cases dramatized the need for “secular authorities” to provide “even-handed justice and restrain the activities of ill-advised individuals.” They described priests who “beat Protestant catechists, seize and destroy their identity cards, tread under foot and burn their Bibles, and threaten them publicly with imprisonment, just as if they had the police authority of the State.”Footnote 66 This memorandum strategically presented Catholicism as a problem not only for Protestants but also for the future of Belgian rule in the Congo, suggesting a clear distinction between the interests of the colonial government and those of the Catholic Church. To give their protests any hope of succeeding, the missionaries stressed their underlying loyalty to Belgian rule. Belgian Congo. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Kimbanguism was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Protestantism is the thirds largest religion in Brazzaville with a 19.9% share of the total population. Such fears led many colonial governments to refuse to grant visas to African American missionaries in the early twentieth century. 63 Emory Ross to Governor General, 18 July 1932, box 289, IMC-CBMS, SOAS. The way religion in the Belgian Congo were 50% were Catholic, 20% were Protestant, 10% were Kimbanguist 10% were Muslims and 10% believed in the traditional religious beliefs of their ancestors. From the beginnings of the European scramble for Africa, Protestant and Catholic missionaries had helped formulate the “civilizing” mission and the humanitarian policies—against slavery, for free trade, and for religious freedom—that served to justify the European and U.S. empires of the time. Britannica Kids Holiday Bundle! For long the Congo appeared to be a peaceful island untouched by African anti-colonialism. Yolanda Covington-Ward is a professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Culture- About half of the population believes in Roman Catholic, while Protestants takes up 20 percent. Congo belge (Belgisch-Kongo en néerlandais) était le nom porté par le territoire de lactuelle république démocratique du Congo (RDC) entre le 15 novembre 1908, fin de lÉtat indépendant du Congo, possession personnelle pendant 23 ans du roi Léopold II des Belges, et laccession à lindépendance congolaise, effective le 30 juin 1960. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. They summed up these themes in the phrase libre examen, translated in the Congo Mission News as “the doctrine of private judgment.” The phrase traced back to, and indeed had shaped the founding ideals of the religiously unaffiliated Université Libre de Bruxelles in the early nineteenth century. In the early 1930s, under the leadership of its American secretary, Emory Ross, the CPC initiated a new round of investigations and protests on religious freedom grounds. First on the list of the protections guaranteed to colonial subjects was the “freedom of conscience or religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals.”Footnote 28 The U.S. Federal Council of Churches, which sent several representatives to Versailles, had advocated for this provision in hopes of safeguarding “the interests of foreign missions, particularly in colonial territories that were the subject of discussion” at the conference.Footnote 29 Thus the complaints of Protestant missionaries like those in the Congo had filtered up through the FCC into the negotiations at Versailles to ensure that religious freedom would once again appear prominently among the protections guaranteed to colonial subjects under international law. First to arrive was a French order, the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, better known as the White Fathers, which sent ten missionaries to Central Africa in 1878. 62 of the Protestant denominations in the country are federated under the umbrella of the Church of Christ in Congo or CCC (in French, Église du Christ au Congo or ECC). Within a few weeks, officials had arrested and imprisoned four women prophets whom they suspected of stirring up trouble. Seasons & Holidays. Belgian authorities generally followed the French model of direct imperial control rather than the indirect rule favored by the British, but they made the medal chiefs responsible for collecting taxes and granted them some discretion over tribal affairs.Footnote 24 This approach cultivated the allegiance of local leaders while delegating the trivial, messy details of governance. Scholars writing about such movements have too often replicated colonial discourse—illustrated here by the interpretive contrast between Protestant missionaries and Belgian authorities—by categorizing them as either religious or political. After his imprisonment, Kimbangu's wife Marie Muili took leadership of a movement that, according to historian Aurélien Mokoko Gambiot, “triggered national awareness among the Congolese.” Three decades later, after a new round of protests and petitions that coincided with the developing independence movement in the Congo, the colonial government would officially recognize the Kimbanguist Church.Footnote 38, The Prophet Movement interpreted the Bible and employed charismatic authority in ways that directly or indirectly challenged colonial rule. The Belgian Protestant missionary organization had missions in the Belgian colony of Ruanda-Urundi but not in Congo. Colonial policy must favor Catholic missions not as a matter of religious favoritism, he said, but because the Protestants encouraged revolution.Footnote 58, Hemptinne grossly exaggerated Protestant support for African independence. Type. See Mamdani, Mahmood, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)Google Scholar; Gordon, David, “Owners of the Land and Lunda Lords: Colonial Chiefs in the Borderlands of Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 34, 2 (2001): 315–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar, But the missionaries were not primarily complaining about the oppression of Congolese workers or the theft of their land. 80 Young, Crawford, The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994)Google Scholar; Dunn, Kevin C., Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Belgian Congo. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) Belgiumball (kinda) Enemies. It was established by the Belgian parliament to replace the previous, privately owned Congo Free State, after international outrage over abuses there brought pressure for supervision and accountability. The government was not following its own stated policies of religious neutrality; indeed it was allowing priests to meddle in the affairs of the state. In theory, most missionaries affiliated with the CCC agreed. 29 Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and Cavert, Samuel McCrea, The Churches Allied for Common Tasks: Report of the Third Quadrennium of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, 1916–1920 (New York: Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, 1921), 252Google Scholar. In 1934, a Congolese Methodist named Vanda Ekanga broke away from the Southern Methodist mission to launch a new movement that openly challenged colonial rule and “the churches of the white man.” Authorities viewed the Vandist movement as a new Kimbanguism, and Methodist missionary leaders worked closely with Catholic and colonial officials to suppress it.Footnote 72 In 1936, the CPC sent a letter to Protestant pastors in Belgium flatly denying a Belgian senator's claim that the Protestant principle of libre examen promoted subversion. Despite the hostile environment the faith encountered in the Congo, the church went on to … Large plantations (growing cotton, oil palms, coffee, cacao, and rubber) and livestock farms were developed. Mwana Lesa's followers accused some of the alleged witches of complicity with the Belgian regime. "hasAccess": "1", Mr Wigny, Belgian minister of the colonies, visiting Kalima (former Belgian Congo) in 1948.png 4,626 × 6,396; 41.53 MB Mungini Mai woman cooking, Belgian Congo.jpg 361 × 589; 48 KB Mushroom-shaped termite mound, Belgian Congo.jpg 238 × 448; 21 KB 32 Higginson, John, “Liberating the Captives: Independent Watchtower as an Avatar of Colonial Revolt in Southern Africa and Katanga, 1908–1941,” Journal of Social History 26, 1 (1992): 55–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Campbell, James T., Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)Google Scholar. The Congo Mission News explained that, as Protestants, they did not seek to dictate the system of government but asked only that the “native Christian” could be assured “a quiet spot in the village for the purpose of reverent and uninterrupted worship” and guaranteed “justice against oppression.” In this articulation of native liberty, the mission churches would not infringe on the concerns of the government—indeed they advocated a greater degree of colonial control—as long as the government treated the various missions equally and protected their members’ right to worship.Footnote 42 The international ecumenical movement responded in much the same way. British delegates at Berlin had Protestant missionaries in mind when they advocated for the General Act of Berlin, an international treaty among European colonial powers that provided ground rules for colonial acquisition and governance.Footnote 15 The Berlin Act specifically guaranteed the “Freedom of Religious Worship” for “natives as well as to other subjects and to foreigners,” and protected “[t]he free and public exercise of all forms of worship, the right of erecting religious edifices, and of organizing missions belonging to all creeds.” But indigenous traditions were not generally included in these protections. 12 On global varieties of secularism, see Jakobsen, Janet R. and Pellegrini, Ann, eds., Secularisms (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008)Google Scholar; Cady, Linell and Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman, eds., Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Göle, Nilüfer, Islam and Secularity: The Future of Europe's Public Sphere (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015)Google Scholar. Some struggled with the trauma of enslavement while others sought alternative routes to status and authority through participating in Independent Christian movements or assuming positions of traditional leadership. It is often simply referred to as 'The Protestant Church', since it covers most of the 20% of the population who are Protestants. The U.S. government estimates the total population is 75.5 million (July 2013 estimate). By categorizing Protestants and their activities as dangerously political, colonial officials dodged charges that they were violating the freedom of religion. The meeting's minutes applauded the “tendency in official Belgian circles to give further recognition and support to our Protestant work” and the determination of “our missions … to be more worthy of such recognition.”Footnote 74 The CPC also continued to condemn independent Congolese churches, denouncing “separatist movements” at its annual meeting in 1940. Mwana Lesa, or “Son of God,” was born Tomo Nyirenda in Nyasaland and educated at Livingstonia, a Scottish mission school, before converting as an adult to the Watch Tower movement, the southern African iteration of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Missionaries had to prove to the Belgian government that their interests were purely religious and not at all political, or in other words that they would loyally uphold the colonial status quo.Footnote 45, Catholic fears of Protestants’ influence were confirmed once more in the case of Mwana Lesa, a Watch Tower preacher who entered into the eastern Katanga region from the British colonies of Nyasaland (now Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). 23 A Report of the Seventh General Conference of Missionaries of the Protestant Missionary Societies Working in Congo, Held at Luebo, Kasai, Congo Belge, February 21–March 2, 1918 (Bololo, Haut Congo, Congo Belge: “Hannah Wade” Printing Press, 1918), 11, 115–16, 147–48. DR Congo - Religion. "clr": false, Religion & Esotericism. In 1923 the anti-clerical Liberal, Maurice Lippens, resigned as governor general, in part because of his clashes with Catholic missionaries. On European debates over indirect rule, see Pedersen, Susan, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. 42 “Notes and Comments,” Congo Mission News (Apr. In keeping with Catholic views of libre examen, he held that Protestants could not have the same privileges as the Catholic missions because they posed a political threat. That campaign, which initiated the Belgian authorities’ skepticism towards Protestant missionaries, has garnered significant attention from historians of humanitarianism, missions, and empire.Footnote 5 Other than a few specialists in the region, however, historians have not examined the religious freedom appeals that followed. 50 We are grateful to an anonymous CSSH reviewer for the interpretive suggestions informing this paragraph. In the Belgian Congo after 1908, more structural forms of colonial violence remained a key issue marking religious experiences. 36 Mokoko Gampiot and Coquet-Mokoko, Kimbanguism, 28, 37–40. It became known thereafter as the Belgian Congo. The capital city of Belgium is Brussels, where the European Union, NATO and other famous organisations are based. Mwana Lesa was not. They called upon principles of international law that asserted religious freedom as an attribute of modern governance and a chief humanitarian concern. Protestant missionaries, Catholic missionaries and colonial officials, and Congolese religious leaders each configured the religious and the political in different ways. Laisser prier ce mouvement, c'est laisser s'organiser ce mouvement hostile, c'est permettre la propaganda, c'est livrer tout le pays au Kibangisme.” Quoted in Augustin Bita Lihun Nzundu, Missions Catholiques et Protestantes Face Au Colonialisme et Aux Aspirations Du Peuple Autochtone à l'autonomie et à l'indépendance Politique Au Congo Belge (1908–1960): Effort de Synthèse (Roma: Pontificia Università gregoriana, 2013), 421. As in other colonial contexts, identifying and executing witches could become a way to purify the community by purging those, especially women, who seemed to threaten a desired or anticipated order. Léopold retaliated by denying permission for new Protestant mission stations; in 1906 he signed a concordat with the Vatican granting special privileges to Catholic missions in the colony. Léopold correctly surmised that the new missions would be valuable allies, and indeed Stanley became a key advocate in his bid for the Congo. or Log-In. These changes were consistent with broader transformations in ecumenical Protestant networks that had been reshaped by Asian and African critiques and could no longer countenance colonial rule. 34 Frederick Bridgman, “The Ethiopian Movements in South Africa,” Missionary Review of the World (June 1904): 434–45, 443. At the same time, he enacted some reforms in the colony's labor practices. The disciplinary impact of these ongoing controversies on the Protestant missions is clear. The statement went on to urge all native Christians to repudiate the errors of Kimbanguism and expressed “deep sympathy” for those missions that had suffered “calumnious attacks,” either from Congolese people who blamed them for turning on the movement or from government officials who considered them responsible for it. Oldham sympathized with the CPC and advocated privately with British and Belgian leaders.Footnote 60 But as the newly appointed director of the International Institute for African Languages and Cultures, Oldham valued good relations with European colonial powers, including Belgium, and he warned Ross against any public exposé. "languageSwitch": true Research mode. For good reason, then, historians in recent years have moved away from earlier historiographical preoccupations with missionary imperialism towards more complex and diverse accounts.Footnote 8 These more nuanced histories, however, run the risk of obscuring the imperial systems and structures in which colonial missions necessarily operated. Many Protestant missionaries were initially optimistic about the Prophet Movement, seeing it as evidence of an emerging indigenous Christianity. The most scathing attack came in 1929 from the fiery Jesuit priest Jean-Félix de Hemptinne, who would become Apostolic Vicar of the Katanga province in 1932. 38 Mackay, “Simon Kimbangu,” 145–56; MacGaffey, Modern Kongo Prophets, 33–43; Mokoko Gampiot and Coquet-Mokoko, Kimbanguism, 76–78. See Nelson, Christian Missionizing; Fast, Anicka, “Sacred Children and Colonial Subsidies: The Missionary Performance of Racial Separation in Belgian Congo, 1946–1959,” Missiology 46, 2 (2018): 124–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar,; Kabongo-Mbaya, L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre; Boyle, Patrick M., “School Wars: Church, State, and the Death of the Congo,” Journal of Modern African Studies 33, 3 (1995): 451–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In Belgium, Catholic missionaries raised money by contrasting their pro-Belgium “national” efforts against allegedly subversive “foreign” Protestants. Traditions et coutumes République du Congo Religions et croyances. Arguing that colonial authorities had misunderstood “the purely religious character of certain manifestations,” they nevertheless acknowledged that the government “had to take severe and immediate measures to check the ‘Prophet Movement’ which [had become] rapidly favourable soil for propaganda hostile to all white men, endangering civilization itself.” Thus, they granted legitimacy to the government's concerns while still placing Kimbangu (and the missions) clearly on the religious side of the religious-political divide. 3 Hollinger, David, Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. 26 Report of the Seventh General Conference, 122–23. The Prophet Movement, the Mwana Lesa scandal, the Catholic Party's dominance, and the anti-Protestantism pervading the Belgian and Congolese press all fostered an expansion of the privileges already granted to Catholic mission schools and hospitals. The military descended in force to occupy the district. While their members had considerable denominational and theological differences, these organizations forged a unified “Protestant” position that prioritized the problem of anti-Protestant bias and government favoritism toward Catholicism in the Congo. But the covenant did follow the precedent set in Berlin by mandating humanitarian treatment for colonial populations, who were judged unready to govern themselves. In any case, Belgian authorities recognized their right to determine which missions could operate in their communities, especially when they preferred Catholicism.Footnote 25 The CCC decried this prerogative as a threat to religious freedom and attacked the Catholic Church and the Belgian officials who favored it. 52 Dufonteny, G., C.S.R., “La Méthode d'Evangélisation chez les Non-Civilisés,” Le Bulletin des Missions 10, 1 (Mar. The Catholic Party, which held the balance of power between the two world wars, exploited the suspicions of Protestant missions to strengthen its own position. Its annual Council Meeting in 1937 included no Congolese church members and welcomed the colony's Vice-Governor General P. Ermens to give a special address. The king also fostered sympathetic Catholic missions. British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914, Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East, Evangelists of Empire? At: (accessed 9 Sept. 2019). "relatedCommentaries": true, A rebellion broke out in several eastern districts in 1919 and was not suppressed until 1923. The Congo Crisis (French: Crise congolaise) was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between 1960 and 1965. Under Protestant tutelage, the Belgian newspaper De Standaard opined, “The converted Negro will constantly follow after all his fancies and drift along after all his lusts.” The principle of libre examen would encourage “primitive” converts to interpret the Bible in dangerous ways. Tilkens affirmed the neutrality of Belgian laws in matters of religion. 62 CPC Meeting Minutes, 13–19 Feb. 1931, Records of the Conseil Protestant du Congo, HR006, Special Collections, Yale Divinity School Library, New Haven (hereafter, CPC Records, Yale). It was established by the Belgian parliament to replace the previous, privately owned Congo Free State, after international outrage over abuses there brought pressure for supervision and accountability. While they could and sometimes did criticize the most egregious “abuses” of colonial authority, if they were to maintain government favor, missionaries had no alternative but to proclaim their support for the regime. By 1908, public pressure and diplomatic manoeuvres led to the end of Leopold II's absolutist rule and to the annexation of the Congo Free State as a colony of Belgium. Christian Missionizing and Social Transformation, 66–102 ; Kabongo-Mbaya, L ’ Église du Christ Au belgian congo religion, July. Economy is huge mit cependant en lumière le potentiel d ’ une évolution plus marquée par ’. This was a resolution aimed at defending the reputation of the Congo but made few local investments initially optimistic the... 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