Communities of faith beyond the West today confront challenges and opportunities that are peculiar to the post-Western phase of the worldwide Christian movement. Just as new nations were coming into existence with faltering steps, new communities of faith were also emerging with contrasting energy and momentum, creating the dual challenge of membership in the religious community alongside membership in the national community. The duties of religion overlap with the demands of nationality, making obedience to God an obligation simultaneous with loyalty to the nation. While Christian teaching addresses this dual obligation from the point of view of Western consensus, it has not done so to the same extent from the point of view of emerging post-Western societies and their pre-Christian heritage.

The Project on Religious Freedom & Society in Africa is housed at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. 

Talk hosted by the program on April 28 on Religion and Democratic Pluralism: The Indonesian Model. Indonesia has over 250 million people. Its territory comprises of more than 13.400 islands which are inhabited by more than 1100 tribes which speak more than 730 active languages and dialects. The major world religions are practiced Indonesia. Islam comprises 88% of the population making Indonesia the largest Muslim country in the world. Yet, in their recent transition to democratic governance the Indonesian people rejected the establishment of Indonesia as an Islamic state, and embraced, guided by the foundational philosophy Pancasila (Five principles), pluralism and moderation. 

Professor Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and Director of the Project on Religious Freedom and Society in Africa at the MacMillan Center, presents his latest publication, Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African, to Pope Francis at the meeting of the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims at the Vatican on February 9, 2017.

In the book, Professor Sanneh examines the origin and evolution of Muslim African pacifist tradition and focuses on the ways in which Islam spread and took hold apart from jihad. He argues that Islam was successful in Africa not because of military might but because it was adapted by Africans themselves. 

Read “Beyond Jihad”: A conversation with Lamin Sanneh.

Accra Charter


At an important companion conference convened in Accra in July, 2010, where the subject of Christian-Muslim relations in Africa led to consideration of the Muslim tradition of faith and the public order, there was general recognition of the need to develop from the Christian side a statement on religious freedom and citizenship that would move the debate beyond the current stalemate.

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