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But does banning them cause more harm than good? Come along to learn about the impact of drugs in Cardigan and whether legal regulation could better protect our communities and families. Tweets by TransformDrugs. Transform at work. Count the Costs Campaign. International Action. The influence of Christianity on African Traditional Religion and African Christian religiosity was achieved through the evangelisation of Africans by returnee African Christian slaves and Christian missionaries from the West.

The emphasis of the Aladura, Zion and Roho churches is on prayer, dreams, prophesy, faith-healing and providing solutions to existential problems. The Aladura of West Africa, for example, strongly believe that the spoken word can be endowed with 'Agbara emi' spiritual power.

This idea is derived from Yoruba traditional beliefs but finds biblical backing in 1 Thessalonians 5 and 1 Corinthians The Aladura, like other AICs, believe in witchcraft, demon-possession, and in the link between sickness, misfortune and the activities of evil spirits - which are also familiar themes in the New Testament and correlate with traditional beliefs Kalu b:5; Metuh xiii; Ejizu The influence of the beliefs and practices of the AICs on mainline and Pentecostal churches in Africa and the African diaspora is substantial Adogame Although the emphasis on prayer, healing, the power of the spoken word and music and dance is rooted biblically, these liturgical activities derive from traditional religious practices.

The impact of these practices in sustaining a vibrant Christian faith and promoting the growth of the church in Africa and in the diaspora is indeed undeniable Kalu c; Adogame Whilst the influence of Christianity on traditional religion and vice-versa is significant, especially as this concerns attaining a meaningful indigenous African Christianity, the mutual influence of religion and the socio-political and economic life of Africans should not be underestimated. Admittedly, just as religion influences the socio-political and economic spheres, so is religion also influenced by these spheres Kalu a African political and economic elite have often resorted to religion in their intense competition for the diminishing resources of wealth, political power and prestige.

In African societies such as Nigeria, the state provides a source of power and wealth, more so than any other institution in society. The power and wealth provided by the state is usually competed for with enormous ferocity. Religion is used in this contest as both a contested field and as an instrument of competition.

The religious dimension in socio-economic and political contestation in Africa could be said to be both pervasive and complex Kalu d Kalu argues that the intrusion of spirituality in contemporary political dynamics is, firstly, given impetus by the claim of African politicians that African political ethics are rooted in an African traditional worldview.

Secondly, religion is employed in the political and economic spheres by those who legitimate their power by appealing to ritual sources to be found in traditional religion and culture. These two factors "enable traditional secret societies such as Ogboni, Nyamkpe, Owegbe, and Ekine to serve as instruments for mobilising economic and political power" in contemporary African society Kalu d Whilst Christianity and Islam, like traditional religions, serve as instruments for the mobilisation of political and economic power, they are also wrongly used by the elite as "instruments of political conflict" Kalu d At the same time, however, if religion is so entrenched in the socio-political and economic lives of Africans, it is unimaginable that it does not also have a vital role to play in the transformation of the continent.

The recent economic performance of African countries has clearly not done enough to promote economic diversification, job growth and social development in order to lift millions of Africans out of poverty UNECA And whilst poverty persists on the continent, corruption is also rife Kolade Definitions of poverty are varied and there is no consensus on the definition of the concept Laderchi et al.

According to Peter Townsend, in a more recent discussion on the concept of poverty initiated by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP , "people can be said to be in poverty when they are deprived of in -come and other resources needed to obtain the conditions of life - the diets, material goods, amenities, standards and services - that enable them to play the roles, meet the obligations and participate in the relationships and customs of their society" Townsend ; cf.

TRANSFORMATION of an individual family community nation and the world

For his part, Stan Burkey defines poverty in terms of basic needs and he distinguishes between absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to the inability of an individual, a community or a nation to meet basic needs such as the need for food, shelter, potable water, healthcare and education. Relative poverty refers to conditions where basic needs are met, but where an inability persists to meet perceived needs and desires.

Most African countries fall within the absolute poverty category. African communities also have definitions, anecdotes and proverbs that depict both the meaning and implications of poverty. For instance, among the Olulumo Okuni people of Cross River State in Nigeria, poverty okpak , besides referring to a lack of possessions, financial incapacity and the inability to meet the basic needs of individuals and the community, also denotes a state or condition devoid of people, happiness and good health.

This understanding is reflected in proverbs such as okpak oni okor "the poor has nobody" , kelam ka okpak a dima koide "the speech of the poor is heard in the evening or when it is late" , and okpak oradoma kenyam "the poor has a stench". These proverbs clearly imply a real awareness of how poverty as an undesirable state or condition of human well-being not only leads to exclusion from communal life but also to an undermining of the 'good life' that gives meaning and purpose to human existence.

According to Ndem Ndiyo , corruption "is the offering, giving, receiving or soliciting, directly or indirectly, of anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party". He goes on to argue that corrupt practices vary enormously in kind from place to place, but usually include fraudulent, collusive, coercive and obstructive practices. Given the levels of poverty on the African continent, Omosegbon supports the acceleration of Africa's development through diversification but maintains that challenging issues such as corruption, civil strife and bad governance - recurring factors in many African nations, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo, Egypt, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and many others - should be taken into consideration.

The perceived notoriety of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Congolese, Cameroonians and other Africans Okafor ; Svensson in terms of corruption, both at home and abroad, is irreconcilable with the significant presence of religious centres and activities in those societies. Referring to the example of Nigerian Christians, Ben Kwashi for instance has remarked: "This nation of Nigeria is blessed with every conceivable missionary church and para-church, and the number of prayer ministries is uncountable And what have we achieved?

For him this feature of intense religiosity should be contrasted with the enormity of corruption in Nigerian society. The enormity of corruption in African society in the midst of intense religiosity inevitably raises serious questions about the kind of Christian, Islamic and traditional religious morality that exists in this predominantly religious continent. Moreover, one may ask: What are the consequences of this form of religiosity?

How does the moral experience and performance of Africans conform to the requirements of biblical, Quranic and African traditional religious morality? If Christianity, Islam and traditional religion are the norm, how, then, should the remarkable rise in instances of corruption, the looting of public treasuries, electoral malpractices, cultism, bribery, armed robbery, kidnappings and other forms of criminal activity in so many African societies be explained?

What constitutes the actual moral authority of Christians, Muslims and traditional religionists? Is it expressed through the media, the internet, through secular values, reason, tradition or the scriptures? Why have Africans, both in moments of crisis and when in political or elevated positions, failed to live up to their religious vocation, especially in terms of enacting sound moral values?

In as much as these are extremely difficult and disturbing questions, they clearly call for deep reflection on the part of religious scholars and practitioners. Whilst the endemic problems of African poverty and corruption should first of all be blamed on the African political elite, the blame rests in the second place on religious leaders who are part of the elite and have done little to stem poverty and corruption Gifford Indeed, it could well be said that religious groups - Christian, Islamic and African Traditional - and their leaders have by and large been compliant as far as these problems are concerned.

With reference to the case of Nigeria, for instance, Agbiji and Swart have pointed out that religious and political leaders have through the centuries derived their leadership ideology from similar ideological sources. In doing so, the religious, socio-economic and political spheres have continued to influence each other both positively and negatively. As a result, religion has been used in particular instances by politicians, political institutions, religious leaders and religious communities to foster and sustain the structural entrenchment of poverty and corruption in the continent in a number of ways.

Firstly, the complacent attitudes of religious leaders towards African governments in power Agi have often resulted in religious leaders' abdicating their prophetic role. A few examples will suffice in this regard. During Ibrahim Babangida's regime as a military despot in Nigeria from , religious and traditional leaders were used to support his schemes. They were lodged in hotels in Abuja and were given briefcases stuffed with money - after endorsing his projects.

When Sani Abacha was Nigerian head of state from and was finding a way to keep himself in office, foreign and local clerics of various religious persuasions likewise travelled to Abuja at Abacha's invitation and expense. In the end, with the exception of the Roman Catholic Pontiff Pope John Paul II , who insisted that Abacha should release all political prisoners, all other clerics went back to their destinations singing the praises of Abacha Agi Likewise, in , during the health crisis of late president Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria, Christian and Muslim religious leaders were invited to Aso Rock the Presidential residence to pray for the ailing president.

Whilst the entire nation was kept in the dark with regard to the state of health of the president, none of the religious leaders came out to declare the true state of his health Agbiji , Whilst it could have been argued at the time that these leaders were not medical practitioners and that there was no pastoral obligation on them to declare confidential information, the least those religious leaders could have done was to declare that the president's health was still in a critical state, instead of keeping silent - especially since they knew the unjust way in which Nigerians had been treated with regard to the issue.

In all three cases, religious leaders were used to cover up for the political elite. The cases of religious and political patronage by politicians and religious leaders in Nigeria cf. Terence Ranger has reported on the way in which religion was used by politicians in the build-up to the elections in Zimbabwe. At a prayer day in Harare in February , Mugabe addressed an audience that included a large contingent from the sect known as African Apostolic Faith; 4 they held placards inscribed with ZANU-PF political messages, whilst singing and dancing.

For his part the leader of this sect, Madzibaba Nzira, 5 announced a prophecy that Mugabe was the divinely anointed king of Zimbabwe and that no person could dare to challenge him. ZANU-PF leaders thus used religion both Christian and African Traditional to promote their political interests, even when these contradicted religious values such as freedom, justice, the sanctity of life and peace.


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This visit by representatives of the MDC similarly demonstrated how political leaders resorted to religion to promote their political ambitions. Whilst some religious leaders have consistently maintained a critical stance against unjust political leaders, there are others that continue to "sway wherever the political wind blows". For instance, in the elections in Zimbabwe, whilst Archbishop Ncube declared Robert Mugabe's new election as president illegal and refused to attend the inauguration, two other Catholic bishops attended.

It is also common knowledge that politicians in many African countries patronise pastors, imams and traditional medicine men in seeking spiritual power to win elections, keep themselves in positions of authority and even to undo their opponents Ranger ; Rodrick Poverty is often accompanied by psychological and physical indignities. Although relief programmes are helpful in at least keeping the body and soul of the poor together as an interim measure, this does not amount to actual empowerment. In this sense, religion has in some ways contributed to the social disempowerment of the poor in African societies.

Thirdly, through their work as distributors of relief and charity, religious institutions -such as the churches - are effectively providing psychological relief for unjust conditions and political and socio-economic institutions Swart a , whilst these continue to impoverish African societies cf. Dickinson The use of religious institutions as distributors of relief and charity by political and economic institutions and by powerful individuals both locally and internationally further exacerbates the challenges of poverty and corruption in Africa.

Fourthly, religious practitioners have often encouraged 'God-talk' that weakens the resolve of masses to rise up against unjust political and economic systems in Africa. Much of this nonchalance with regard to public issues is initiated by the political elite and given impetus by religious leaders and by the faithful. In the face of socio-political and economic challenges on the continent, instead of Africans rising to the challenge, they resort to prayer.

Whilst praying over issues of socio-political and economic importance is necessary, prayer should not replace responsible actions that are geared towards fighting unjust systems. The remarkable indifference of religious institutions in Africa in the face of enormous socio-political and economic injustice runs counter to their ethical claims.

Such indifference on the part of religious institutions and practitioners in Africa also distances them from their known roles in overturning social injustice in various contexts such as Europe in the past. In this regard, for example, Paul Tracey reminds us of the role of religion in enabling "the people" to fight oppression between the 18th and 20th centuries in Europe and the United States of America.

He asserts that between the 18th and 20th century, religious movements provided the basis for nearly all of the major uprisings by peasant or urban workers in Europe. The importance of the role of religious institutions in overturning unjust social institutions elsewhere lies in the example this presents to African religious institutions and practitioners. Fifthly, the politicisation and radicalisation of religion in a number of African countries - such as in post-independence Nigeria, Rwanda and recently in Egypt, Kenya, Sudan and other African countries - have led to violence, deaths, injustice, poverty and hardship, which will be very difficult to eradicate from the continent Kalu e Religious riots and Islamic terrorism in Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, Egypt and other parts of Africa all demonstrate the negative impact of religion.

These negative trends have not only claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives, but are also responsible for the enormous destruction of resources Kalu e that could have been used for the development of African nations. Kalu e has rightly observed that the radicalisation of religion in Africa is accompanied by the scourge of poverty.

Instead of being a source of complacency, conflict and poverty, religion could provide a lens through which the public space can be re-imagined Kalu e and developed. In the nations of the global North or the so-called developed world, the forces of enlightenment and modernisation have distanced religion from socio-political and economic life, relegating it to the private sphere. During the same era, religion was seen as counter-developmental. However, over a period of time, and particularly from the latter part of the 20th century, a movement from estrangement to engagement between faith and development occurred.

Unlike societies of the global North, where faith and development were estranged at some point in history, in African societies religion remained central in all aspects of society Kobia ; Laguda ; Adesina , Religion, moral values, wealth and social progress were, historically speaking, all communal matters and have remained so in many instances. Poverty was not a pronounced feature of African societies.

For example, among the already-mentioned Olulumo Okuni people of Cross River State, Nigeria, traditional norms still exist until today that are religiously informed and that ensure there is care for all members of the community. A stranger, on passing by a yam barn when hungry, can stop over to roast yam and eat to his or her satisfaction. When passing by tapped palm trees, a thirsty person that desires to drink palm wine but cannot afford it can drink some wine.

A cut tree branch or leaves placed on the spot where the needy person helped himself or herself was sufficient to inform the owner that the wine was not taken by a thief but by a person in need. The notion of material accumulation for personal gain is foreign to African traditional societies. To be wealthy or rich, means to be surrounded by many people - community.

It also means to be healthy and ethically sound, and to be in tune with one's creator, ancestors and community Narayan Among the Olulumo people, for example, a rich person is called efang-ane, which literarily means "being wealthy of people or having many people". The concept of honour and shame was also helpful in African societies as it prevented people from stealing in order to gain prestige or win accolades from the community. Stealing was taboo and stigmatised the thief, his family and community, all of whom would suffer shame and stigmatisation on account of such behaviour Agbiji ; Magesa There are critics who argue that the African patterns of social behaviour are basically responsible for the material backwardness of African societies.

However, within the corpus of alternative developmental approaches, humankind is being urged to return to communal and sustainable lifestyles, as they are now believed to be the solution to the global economic and environmental challenges Theron Despite the erosion of many religiously informed traditional practices by the forces of modernity and globalisation, religion, whether African Traditional, Christian or Islam, still has a vital contribution to make to the progress of African societies. Religion can provide a frame of reference by which the existing value systems of a society may be examined critically.

Religious values have informed local and international law; such values are greatly cherished and have been of immense benefit in the conceptualisation and development of modern democracy and democratisation.

These values include the sanctity of human life, human equality and human dignity Tsele Within the Christian understanding, this is the prophetic function of religion. Besides providing a yardstick by which the value system of society can be measured, religion is indispensable for conveying moral values in a society. Religion plays an indispensable role in fostering values such as honesty, integrity, openness, forthrightness and tolerance Kalu d; Tsele Such values are crucial for the development of good economic and democratic political systems.

African economic and democratic political systems are still grossly underdeveloped. Signs of underdevelopment are evident in weak economic institutions and in the almost total absence of robust opposition parties in countries such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Togo and Malawi, but also many others. The low level of forthrightness and transparency within political and economic institutions and by leaders is hindering social progress as this fosters corruption and stifles the development of civil societies.

The indirect influence of religious culture on economic and political culture through the transference of religious values to these spheres Agi could therefore benefit economic and political institutions in Africa. In African Traditional Religion, the fostering of values in society is achieved through the immersion of the individual in the activities of society through participation in the community. This act of immersion in society through participation in community is the very core of indigenous spirituality and morality.

In this light, spirituality and morality are inseparable Magesa All of these levels of immersion into community occur simultaneously and reflect the moral formation of the individual who is also accountable to the community. Both the immersion and moral formation of the individual are carried out by parents and members of the community through religious rituals and teachings.

The link between spirituality and morality, and the processes of immersion and moral formation in African Traditional Religion resonate with African Christianity Kalu c Christianity pays attention to moral formation through Bible study, catechism and through other means of disseminating scripture within the family unit and the church community. Religious teachings that are aimed at moral formation also contribute substantially to developing optimism amidst the deplorable socio-political and economic conditions in African societies.

Religion creates hope and optimism in spite of failed governments and economic institutions in Africa. African Christianity, through African Pentecostalism, offers a typical example of the enormous hope that extends from religion to the society. Hope and optimism are mediated through emphasis on the power of the Word of God in spiritual formation and in resisting evil forces Kalu f Illustrating how Pentecostals kindle hope and optimism in worship, Kalu describes how members of the congregation arrive for Bible studies and Sunday worship with notebooks to take down the message or 'revelation' with the intention of applying it during the week.

In the process everyone is urged to become a victor and 'demon destroyer'. Kalu describes this way of kindling optimism as a hermeneutics for conscientisation. The aim here is to relate the promises in the Bible to the existential problems being experienced by the people so that no worshipper leaves the service bearing ' the burdens of yesterday' Kalu f Alongside the building of optimism in the lives of worshippers through the hermeneutics for conscientisation, religion also contributes towards conscientising the religious practitioner to be responsive to the challenges of society.

As a result, the religious person becomes a source of social capital. Religion in Africa is a key source of social capital. Social, cultural and religious or spiritual capital are not mutually exclusive but are interconnected Adogame ; cf. The concept of spiritual and religious capital is similar to the more general concept of social capital because this is a resource based on relationships that individuals and religious groups can access for their personal well-being.

The same resources can also be donated as a gift to the larger society Adogame Using the case of Africans in the diaspora and the role of religion as source of social capital, Kalu g argues that religious communities assist new immigrants to secure roots; they provide a network of social and economic transactions, spiritual solace, and link to the religion of the homeland traditional and Christian. Among African societies, religion is useful in mobilising resources that would not otherwise have been mobilised to address community problems.

It assists in raising consciousness about community problems among people who would not otherwise be aware of those problems. It creates linkages between social groups that would not normally exist. Religious communities such as churches assist in empowering social groups that usually have little influence. According to Adogame , these benefits of religious communities as providers of social capital are playing out within African Christian communities in the triangular context of Africa, Europe and North America.

In considering the operation of religious and spiritual capital within the broader understanding of social capital, its importance in relation to the development of civil society and democratic life in Europe and North America should be recognised. A nexus between social capital drawn from religious communities, and civil society and democratic life is emerging among African societies Agbiji , A few examples will illustrate the role of religion in terms of social capital drawn from religious communities, civil society and democratic life in Africa. In Nigeria, Kalu argues that all churches have been forced by the economic collapse and the political legitimacy crisis to assume greater visibility in the public space.

In the past mainline churches have borne the brunt of building civil society and responding to both the state and the enormous social service burdens Kalu h And within the South African context, Ignatius Swart b:2 has shown through socio-empirical research how churches are strategically very important in terms of the formation of social capital to promote social development. This is especially so in light of the high levels of trust still shown in this sector by ordinary people and the way in which churches inspire the activities of voluntary outreach, caring and social services, all of which can be mobilised for social capital interventions cf.

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Eigelaar-Meets et al. Churches also provided platforms that enabled civil society to survive even under oppressive regimes such as apartheid and military rule in Africa. As such, religious communities still remain viable platforms for the sustaining of civil society in Africa and for fostering political and economic activities. Religious communities are creating an effective interface between religion and socioeconomic and political development. Olutayo Adesina argues that, like many other churches, these churches have become platforms for business interests which include the banking, publishing, broadcasting, entertainment and hospitality industries.

Adesina reports that in one of the business outfits of Christ Embassy had a monthly turnover of about 10 million naira. It is on record that in the midst of the turmoil accompanying transitions to democracy in Africa through the s, the Pentecostals rallied in prayer for their nations, and interceded in order to save their countries from bloodshed Asamoah-Gyadu These religious interventions portray religion as a unifying factor in society. In Africa, religious communities are serving as a unifying factor and as a vehicle for social, economic and political development on the African continent Tsele , which has suffered acute fragmentation as a result of colonialisation, economic globalisation and deepening pauperization.

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Even though religious fundamentalism represents an important contributing factor to such fragmentation in present-day African society, religious communities provide viable and crucial networks that are able to serve as glue for leverage collaboration and to harness resources for the social transformation of the continent. The role of churches in promoting social cohesion is indispensable. Lamle cited in Mang argues that:. They come together in one brotherhood that helps them to withstand the socio-political and economic chaos in Nigeria. This bond becomes the crutch upon which the people are able to come together into one single-family unit and domesticate their problems together.

Lamle's argument on the important role of churches in society captures the importance of religion in the socio-political and economic spheres of African societies. It shows the scope of religion as a uniting factor, as a source of empowerment in relation to socio-political and economic challenges and as a force for the recovery of collective consciousness from social crises. The role of religious communities such as churches in Africa but also of other religious communities, including African traditional religious communities shows how indispensable religion is to the development of Africa.

Our view, however, is that religious communities could still play a more prominent role in the transformation of African societies, given the number of religious practitioners on the continent and religion's deep roots in the socio-political, cultural and economic lives of Africans. It is also our view that religion and religious practitioners could play a more transformative role in society - if they were liberated from certain limitations and practices that portray them in a bad light in society.

All religious traditions cherish moral values such as virtue, justice, the sanctity of human life, equality and human dignity. There is also the belief in the Supreme Being to whom all beings are accountable. For example, in African traditional societies restraints on leaders were religious. The symbols of justice were respected and belief in restoring justice was very strong Agi This promoted the well-being of African societies.

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Religion still has the potential to influence socio-political and economic processes in Africa. Such positive influence could ameliorate poverty and corruption, thereby assisting with the socio-political and economic transformation of the continent. For religion to play its much-needed role in transforming a continent whose sole and major export is religion, Africans must deliberately return to the values of their much cherished religiosity.

This is crucial, as religious values are an important resource for religious communities in their quest for the socio-political and economic development of Africa. With regard to Christian religious values, Kunhiyop has observed that the challenge of African Christianity may be looked at in terms of moral life and practice. A discussion on morality would automatically touch on Christian but also on Islamic and African Traditional religious theology and vice versa, as theology and ethics are intimately connected in both the African continent and elsewhere.

Kunhiyop has, therefore, decried the fact that the Christian message that was passed on during the missionary era was wrapped in a culture that was alien to Africans; this meant that both the message and the culture were treated by the messenger as one and the same thing. It is for this reason that the worldview of the messenger was deliberately transmitted to the African Christian with the effect of supplanting the African worldview with a Western mind-set.

Such a Western worldview, which is unfamiliar to Africans, includes the compartmentalisation of life and asserts individual moral freedom in total disregard of the community. Kunhiyop maintains that it is this state of affairs that has impacted negatively on African Christians, leaving them with a moral attitude which is rooted neither in African traditional religious morality nor in Christian morality.

His thesis is, therefore, as follows: in order to recover African moral sanity, there is the urgent need to retrieve and restore some positive moral foundations and beliefs which were the moral basis of African societies. These moral foundations and beliefs, transformed through serious interaction with the word of God and inculturated into African Christianity, will save and strengthen the moral stance of the Christian community and indeed of Africa Kunhiyop As a solution to the African Christian moral crisis which gives impetus to poverty and corrupt-tion, African Christians in particular, but also Africans of other religious communities, should approach life holistically, living with a concern for one another as a community, and recapturing the key concepts of shame and honour.

In addition, African churches should devise theological and hermeneutical models that are contextually relevant, and that assist religious education to be contextually relevant Kunhiyop This approach of African Christians forging relevant theologies and ministerial formation could also apply to other religions such as Islam in Africa.

Matthew Hassan Kukah , on his part, has also argued that for religious communities and their leaders to be able to regain their values and moral authority, they must liberate themselves from the laagers of regionalism, inter- and intra-denominational or doctrinal clashes, historical antagonisms, suspicions, ethnicity and racial biases.

In the same vein, religious communities and leaders in Africa are becoming increasingly embroiled in the competition for political power, social status and the other rewards that society can offer Agi Such attitudes on the part of religious leaders are unbecoming. Religious leaders and the faithful will therefore do well to desist from these shameful acts, to be able to perform their prophetic role as the bastion of morality in society. As legitimate citizens of their respective nations, religious practitioners are entitled to political power and prestige.