This paper examines the Protestant Church in Congo/Zaire during the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. It reviews its origins as a loose affiliation of denominations during the days of the Belgian colony and the changes which came about under Bokeleale—its driving force and central figure. His goal was to do away with the autonomy of the denominations and create a super Protestant Church in the nation. With the help of government legislation, forced union and centralisation took place. It is the purpose here to highlight some of the forces that were at work and to decide what the consequences were in this marriage of the Protestant Church and the state in Zaire. Not all Protestants yielded to the pressures of state and church and by the 1990s new expressions of faith were emerging in the nation. What then were the outcomes?
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See Martin 1975; Young199466; Sundkler and Steed 2000 780-783; cf. Schatzberg 1991 122. He questions the figures usually presented (5000000); having done my own research I would agree with him. I reckon that there were likely around 500000 at most at the end of the Mobutu years.
See Sundkler and Steed2000968. It is evident from the way in which Bokeleale’s governance of the Church of Christ of Congo/Zaire was maintained that he as with his patron Mobutu in the political sphere left little room for meaningful input into the running of the ECC/ECZ from any who were not totally behind his goals. Kabongo-Mbaya (1992 224) says that Bokeleale’s tactics to dominate in every area were present in what he calls his ambition to become a mini-Pope over all the communities; see his comments regarding this authority (235f.) and his considerable powers as viewed by the ECZ (362). Kabongo-Mbaya (1991 87) underlines the fact that even his own second-in-charge: Masamba Ma Mpolo who opposed the ‘episcopalianisation’ of the ECZ was forced to stand down and leave the country only to return later and become the cofounder of a political party called the Christian Democratic and Social Party (PDSC).
See Hastings1979191-193; Willame et al. 1997 67ff.; Sundkler and Steed 2000 965-68; Young 1994 67ff.
See Martin 1976; Irvine 1971; Asch2000.
For the earliest period see Slade195912.
On Lovic see Kabongo-Mbaya1992260f.
See Gifford1994a528on the matter of churches either backing or opposing political reform.
Sundkler and Steed2000968.
Boyenge197210f.; Makanzu 1973 20f. 31.
See Young1994323for the figures on inflation from 1967-1983 when the Zaire (the name of the currency) went from being worth $2 to $0.03.
Willame et al.19975.
Willame et al.19975.
See parallels with Gifford1994b521.
See Gifford1994b521who discusses the unwillingness to engage the question of abuses in society.
See Fabian1971. Much depends on the way in which the term Charismatic is defined. For his definition of ‘charismatic’ see his article 1966 545. Interestingly much of what Fabian describes as exclusive to the Jamaa dream is not; it is part of the thinking of numbers of the ethnic groups in this area of the Congo. The Jamaa have merely put their particular religious interpretation on certain aspects of dreams. For more on dreams in a Congo setting see Pype 2011 81-96.