Léopold then persuaded the Vatican to open a missionary training school in 1884 specifically to supply Belgian Catholic missionaries for the Congo.Footnote 13, With all of these plans in place, Léopold arrived at the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 ready to claim the resource-rich land and invaluable Congo River ports. 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. By the late 1960s, the World Council of Churches would adopt openly anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stands.Footnote 78. Belgian Congo. The CPC had no “political” aims, the memorandum claimed, but sought only to pursue “the task of evangelization, education, and the relief of human suffering to which all good Christians should devote themselves.”Footnote 70 The same evidence could easily have been marshaled on behalf of a nascent movement for Congolese independence. Roman Catholicism is the most widely practiced form of Christianity with over 33% of the total population adhering to its beliefs and teachings. Protestant missionaries called for “native rights” and “native liberties” when indigenous agency seemed likely to serve their own goals. In his 1953 survey of church and state in Africa, George Wayland Carpenter—a former Baptist missionary in the Congo and CPC educational secretary, now serving as secretary for the Africa division of the National Council of Churches—identified the source of church-state conflicts in the colonial world by contrasting “Anglo-Saxon” and “Latin” conceptions “of the Church itself.” In the midst of a rising African anti-colonial movement, Carpenter praised the Belgian government's newfound “spirit of fairness” and defined religious freedom without any critique of the imperial 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. Type. The need to guard against Catholic attacks and colonial suspicions made these Protestants equally compliant and sometimes even eager agents of the Belgian Empire. He favored quiet “persuasion,” or speaking directly to government officials who might adjust policies behind closed doors over a public campaign that would try to “force” Belgium's hand “by means of public opinion.” The missionaries should exercise a “large Christian statesmanship” and show Belgian officials how their work as evangelists, teachers, and medical missionaries benefited the colonial government. Roman Catholic Christianity. The country has one archdiocese and seven dioceses. Meanwhile, memories of the campaign against Léopold's regime allowed many Belgians to see all Protestants as possible American or British agents. 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). Although they disagreed on other points, Catholic government officials and church leaders tended to agree that the good of the colony required some restrictions on these “foreign” missions. 47 Noting the newspaper's popularity and reach among “the middle classes in the Flemish provinces,” the CPC circulated the article to all of its members so they could respond to the “untruth,” which most Belgian papers had already retracted, that Mwana Lesa was affiliated with the Protestant missions. The involvement of the Belgian Congo (the modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo) in World War II began with the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940. Imperial exigencies and imperatives shaped these competing secularisms—and they operated dialectically together to bolster Belgian rule.Footnote 54. As Patrick Boyle has argued, the new Belgian administration was convinced by Protestant arguments for “freedom of conscience” and challenged the virtual Catholic monopoly over education in the colony with a system of “secular” schools. “The notorious Mwana Lesa,” explained the Congo Mission News, killed upwards of fifty people in the mineral-rich Katanga region before being caught and tried in Rhodesia and hanged on 6 March 1926.Footnote 46 By painting Mwana Lesa as the “new Kimbangu,” the colonial administration and Catholic missionaries continued associating Protestantism with violence and disorder. Thirty years earlier, British and U.S. Protestants had helped publicize the systemic violence used against Congolese laborers by the rubber concessionaries and the colony's military police, the Force Publique. In theory, most missionaries affiliated with the CCC agreed. The religion of Islam has been increasing within the country and today, 5% of the population identifies as Muslim. Another big reason the Belgians wanted to control the Congo was because they wanted to spread the religion … They stressed their “utmost loyalty to Belgium” and their care in teaching the same loyalty to their converts. 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. British and American activists created Congo Reform Associations to lobby their governments to politically pressure the Belgian king. Meanwhile, Belgian authorities privileged Belgian national unity over religious difference, structurally privileging Catholic missions while recognizing limited rights for “foreign” churches under Belgian and international law. (CONGO INDEPENDENT STATE AND CONGO MISSIONS) EDITOR'S NOTE: The following account of the Congo Independent State was written before the annexation of the State by the Belgian Government. DR Congo - Religion. The king also fostered sympathetic Catholic missions. 1933, 2, 15, 10–11, 6, MRL Pamphlets, UTS. Also active in exposing the activities of the Congo Free State was the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose book The Crime of the Congo was widely read in the early 1900s. In “The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, “darkness” is relevant throughout the text. 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 official Belgian attitude was paternalism: Africans were to be cared for and trained as if they were children. Seasons & Holidays. For long the Congo appeared to be a peaceful island untouched by African anti-colonialism. 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. Protestant missionaries in the Congo challenged the privileges granted to Catholic institutions by appealing to religious freedom guarantees in colonial and international law. 49–68 at 5 (1886). The other side of the equation is subtler but significant. 34 Frederick Bridgman, “The Ethiopian Movements in South Africa,” Missionary Review of the World (June 1904): 434–45, 443. In February 1931, the Congo Protestant Council (CPC) formed a committee to investigate the topic of “Religious Freedom, Native Liberty, and Roman Catholic Aggression.” These missionaries were diverse in their theological commitments, denominational affiliations, and national origins. The government did not intend such measures as a step towards independence but rather as a way to prevent it. On dominant cultural representations of African and African American religion as embodied and emotional, see Evans, Curtis J., The Burden of Black Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Formerly: Zaire, Zairians, Belgian Congo, Congo (Léopoldville). Like abolitionism and Christian missions, the humanitarian ideal of religious freedom could serve as a benevolent rationale for colonialism. In the late 1950s, when France and the United Kingdom worked with their colonies to prepare for independence, Belgium still portrayed the Congo as an idyllic land of parent-child relationships between Europeans and Africans. The problem, they believed, rested in the Catholic missionaries who exploited the “excessive nationalism” in Belgium on behalf of their own church. Après son arrivée en République du Congo dans les années 1960, le développement de la religion de Tenrikyo y a été appuyé par des missionnaires japonais. Both forced labor and high taxes continued the horrors of Leopold. First, the post-colonial political leaders of Congo and Rwanda continued the Belgian colonial policies. Congolese demands for leadership in the churches had corresponded to and arguably helped foster the national independence movement. “The thriving of Protestantism in mission countries is always accompanied by the rising desires towards liberating independence,” the editors warned. 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. Belgian Empireball. While Catholics identified Protestantism as inherently political and saw no problem with state support for their own “national” missions, Protestants argued that the state must ensure complete equity among religious groups and the freedom of each individual to choose between them. From 1885 to 1908, Belgian King Leopold II took control of the Congo. If they could do this without compromising their “central and primary missionary aims” then they were more likely to succeed, while a public campaign similar to the earlier outcry against King Léopold could backfire.Footnote 61, Following Oldham's advice, Ross and his colleagues proceeded quietly with a series of meetings and memoranda sent directly to Belgian officials. But they found it difficult to apply the principle of indigenous self-determination when it came to practices and traditions that they considered superstitious or immoral. By encouraging individuals to interpret the Bible themselves, making it fit their “personal and intimate desires” rather than learning from it “the immortal truths of Christianity,” Protestants blurred religion and politics and fomented a rebellion against the church that could extend to a rebellion against the state. 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. "hasAccess": "1", Britannica Kids Holiday Bundle! On the White Fathers, see Northrup, David, “A Church in Search of a State: Catholic Missions in Eastern Zaïre, 1879–1930,” Journal of Church and State 30, 2 (1988): 309–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar. 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. At: http://www.empire.amdigital.co.uk/Documents/Details/A%20Protestant%20Protest (accessed 9 Sept. 2019). But Belgian authorities claimed fidelity to international law and to their own guarantees of religious freedom because, in their eyes, any group that undermined or directly challenged the legitimacy of colonial rule was not real religion at all. It served to classify and control indigenous practices, traditions, and peoples; ranked human societies on a hierarchical scale from “savage” to “civilized”; and rationalized the racial hierarchies and disciplinary violence of European imperialism.Footnote 50 Mwana Lesa's anti-witchcraft crusade was a product and a symptom of colonial violence. Most European and North American missionaries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries held ethnocentric and sometimes explicitly racist views. The initial harmony between Protestants, Catholics, and Léopold's regime quickly evaporated. 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. Kimbanguism now has about three million members. The Katangese government declared the province an independent state and this forced people to choose which government they were allied to. Leopold II (1835-1909) wanted his country to join the league of European empires, but the Belgian state refused to finance its part in western Europe’s expensive scramble for Africa. Lippens had proposed a restructuring plan that would have placed all villages, even those effectively managed by Catholic missions, under direct government control. And yet, religion also acted as a bridge. Feature Flags last update: Mon Dec 14 2020 14:10:01 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Many Congolese villagers at first avoided the mission schools because they had a religious agenda that threatened to undermine their cultural values and beliefs. To give their protests any hope of succeeding, the missionaries stressed their underlying loyalty to Belgian rule. Some of Kimbangu's apostles called him a new David who would challenge the Goliath of colonialism, or even a “savior for the Black race” who would lead them out of captivity. Total loading time: 0.706 The history is complicated by King Leopold’s quest to make Belgium great which began July 1, 1885, when the King decreed that all lands belong to the state. 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. Protestant missionaries, Catholic missionaries and colonial officials, and Congolese religious leaders each configured the religious and the political in different ways. The state of Belgiumalso subsidized Roman Catholic missions that would establish schools as well as hospitals throughout the country. The ecumenical Congo Protestant Council called for a firm separation of church and state to defend the legitimacy of their schools, hospitals, and other institutions as well as their own rights and those of Congolese Protestants. Conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the Congo exerted disciplinary pressures on all sides, but most powerfully on the Protestant missions. Few countries in Africa proved more receptive to the work of Christian missions than the Belgian Congo. During this twelve-year period, there was a significant amount of unrest in the Belgian Congo. 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. Instead, their rhetoric of rights and liberty sought to reinforce Belgian authority.Footnote 3 The CPC denied Catholic allegations that “foreign” Protestants were “sowing the seeds of independence” and placed blame for anti-colonial stirrings on the Catholic missionaries instead. When missionaries asked Belgian officials to honor the principles of “native liberty” and religious neutrality, they invariably explained that this policy would be fully consistent with Belgian law and the best impulses of the Belgian people. 46 ‘“Protestantism in the Congo,’” Congo Mission News (July 1926): 1; Ranger, Terence O., “The Mwana Lesa Movement of 1925,” in Ranger, T. O. and Weller, John C., eds., Themes in the Christian History of Central Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 45–50Google Scholar. 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. Belgian Congoball was a colony of Belgian Empireball. 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. Parts of Central Africa were divided into the French Congo, the Portuguese Congo (Angola), and the soon-to-be-named Congo Free State with Léopold as its sovereign king. Abstract. Add a photo to this gallery. Even Dunn's longer history of the Congo skips from that campaign, the focus of his first chapter, to Congolese independence in 1960 and the crisis that followed. In the Belgian Congo in 1959 Christianity was the main religion. When you hear of the word “darkness”, what do you think of? Attributing the excitement to “religious mania or some form of faith healing,” he suggested that the prophet be given a “rest cure” in the hospital. 15 International law arguably emerged as a way to mediate between competing imperial powers. 50 We are grateful to an anonymous CSSH reviewer for the interpretive suggestions informing this paragraph. On Catholic missions in the Congo, see Lokando, Richard Dane, Le Saint-Siège et l’État Indépendant Du Congo (1885–1908): L'organisation Des Missions Catholiques (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2016)Google Scholar. While Belgian missionaries and government officials debated what qualified as “religion,” scholars and colonial authorities around the world sought to clarify the lines between religion, witchcraft, magic, and sorcery. They examine the complex interaction with indigenous religious beliefs and practices, and … It was through this lens that Catholic missionaries judged the Prophet Movement. 44 “Congo Continuation Committee Meets,” Congo Mission News (Jan. 1924): 12. View all Google Scholar citations King Leopold II of the Belgians persuaded the government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely unexplored Congo Basin. 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. 72 Kasongo, Michael, History of the Methodist Church in the Central Congo (Lanham: University Press of America, 1998), 50–55Google Scholar. 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. Il met la nouvelle république, qui devient République du Congo deux ans plus tard, sur la voie du socialisme. In 1946, a new liberal-socialist coalition government acceded to missionary and Congolese Protestant demands and granted the Protestant mission schools and hospitals access to government subsidies. Published online by Cambridge University Press:  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. 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. CPC committees convened in 1930 and 1931 gathered two kinds of evidence: documentation of favoritism toward Catholic institutions and accounts of physical violence and discrimination against Congolese Protestants.Footnote 62 Yet again, they invoked the language of “native rights” and “native liberties” not to protest colonialism, a move that would have ensured their failure, but instead to secure their own position as partners in Belgium's civilizing mission. Granting these rights, they argued, would vindicate “the good name” of the colony and facilitate its “peace and tranquility.” Despite the travails of the missions and the upheavals of war, the CCC could celebrate the addition of five new missionary societies, ninety-two new workers, and thirty-three new mission stations in seven years. Some Belgian “ colonial” artists who produced “ colonial” artwork never even went to the Congo but were only inspired by it, while others went for shorter or longer stays. 5 Ewans, Martin, European Atrocity, African Catastrophe: Leopold II, the Congo Free State and Its Aftermath (New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002)Google Scholar; Dunn, Kevin, Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)Google Scholar; Grant, Kevin, A Civilized Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884–1926 (London: Routledge, 2005), 39–78Google Scholar; Pavlakis, Dean, British Humanitarianism and the Congo Reform Movement, 1896–1913 (London: Routledge, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In 1923 the anti-clerical Liberal, Maurice Lippens, resigned as governor general, in part because of his clashes with Catholic missionaries. BELGIAN CONGO St. Francis Xavier 1953 … The capital city of Belgium is Brussels, where the European Union, NATO and other famous organisations are based. En 1908, la Chambre de… 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. In January 1959, riots broke out in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) after a rally was held calling for the independence of the Congo. The 635-pound ape died there in 1944. 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. Many Protestant missionaries were initially optimistic about the Prophet Movement, seeing it as evidence of an emerging indigenous Christianity. This history demonstrates how the dynamics of imperialism constrained the meaning of “native liberty” along with the possible models of church and state. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the primary role of the Church, both in religion and education, was to promote colonialism. 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, https://doi.org/10.1353/cch.2016.0013; and Klose, Fabian, ed., The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Naming these incidents as “Roman persecution,” Ross and his colleagues also invoked a rich collective memory of martyrdom stories. The history of this campaign demonstrates how humanitarian discourses of religious freedom—and with them … Capital. "subject": true, Thousands of his followers were jailed or deported. These missionaries merely presented themselves, in contrast to the Catholics, as the more benevolent civilizing force. By 1903, the economy for rubber in the Congo had collapsed, so the new Belgian colony focused on exploiting the Katanga province for copper, diamonds, and oil. See Bennett, Bruce S. and Boloaane, Maitseo, “The BaKhurutshe Anglicans of Tonota Religious Persecution in the Bechuanaland,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 43, 2 (2010): 319–40Google Scholar. Colonial officials viewed Kimbanguism as part of a continent-wide revolt against Europeans; in Catholic eyes it proved how dangerous Protestant influence could be. * Views captured on Cambridge Core between 01st January 2020 - 14th December 2020. This developing colonial scholarship invoked early modern constructs of witchcraft alongside twentieth-century forms of ethnographic and criminological knowledge. While establishing this religion in the country, the belief was held by Belgium colonizers that Catholicism would lead to a more disciplined… 64 CPC Circular, “Memorandum to Colonial Minister,” 24 Feb. 1933, CPC Papers, RG432, box 81, folder 2, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. They affirmed “the right of liberty of conscience and religious worship on the part of the Natives” along with “the right of missions to fair and impartial treatment.” They belonged to the liberal Protestant international described by David Hollinger and others, yet unlike some of their missionary peers in South and East Asia, they did not turn against imperialism. In 1921, British Baptist W. B. Frame told his colleagues at the Congo Continuation Committee meeting about the “strange and widespread upheaval” in his church and in neighboring towns. In service of these aims, they clearly located themselves as “religious” actors, safely away from the dangerous realms of the “political.” Thus the exigencies of colonialism shaped the scope of the religious in the Belgian Congo. ABIR enjoyed a boom through the late 1890s, by selling a kilogram of rubber in Europe for up to 10 fr which had cost them just 1.35 fr. Page 26 of 50 - About 500 essays. Technical. Kimbangu turned himself into the authorities that September and was sentenced to death the next month. 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. Among other things, this meeting confirmed the Congo Free State as being the private property of King Leopold II. In response, Belgian authorities and Catholic missionaries elaborated a church-state arrangement that limited “foreign” missions in the name of Belgian national unity. 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. In some contexts it has also enhanced colonial control, introducing and enforcing religious-secular distinctions that can undermine indigenous systems of governance and authority by relegating them to the realm of the religious.Footnote 11 These forms of secularism do not necessarily view religion as a threat to the state. Léopold convinced the international community that he shared in the humanitarian goals asserted by other imperialists at the time, including the benevolent aims of Christian missions and the elimination of slavery. For related analyses in other colonial contexts, see Román, Reinaldo L., Governing Spirits: Religion, Miracles, and Spectacles in Cuba and Puerto Rico, 1898–1956 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dennis, Matthew, Seneca Possessed: Indians, Witchcraft, and Power in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. 52 Dufonteny, G., C.S.R., “La Méthode d'Evangélisation chez les Non-Civilisés,” Le Bulletin des Missions 10, 1 (Mar. But, at least in these negotiations with colonial officials, the CPC maintained its faith in the humanitarian need for European rule. Missionaries in Colonial History (Melbourne: eScholarship Research Centre in collaboration with the School of Historical Studies, 2008)Google Scholar; and Conroy-Krutz, Emily, Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Large plantations (growing cotton, oil palms, coffee, cacao, and rubber) and livestock farms were developed. 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. 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