Taking Advantage of Democratic Space? Church Advocacy on Emerging Development in Ghana
- 1:00 pm on Friday, October 27, 2017
- 2:30 pm on Friday, October 27, 2017
- 10 Lenox St. Brookline, MA
CURA Colloquium with Amy S. Patterson, Carl Biehl Professor of International Affairs, University of the South As democracy has advanced in some parts of Africa, churches have been afforded new political space in which to advocate for policies and participate in the policy-making process. How have they used this space? What issues have they sought to address? As a country with many freedoms and competitive elections, and as a country with a Christian majority, Ghana provides a case in which to investigate these questions. Churches historically have played a role in the political realm, with mainline Protestants and Catholics advocating for the end of authoritarian rule in the early 1990s and, more recently, Pentecostal leaders urging anti-corruption campaigns and moral education in schools. Yet, have these religious actors engaged the political realm around relatively new issues such as noncommunicable diseases, the youth bulge (and youth unemployment), or environmental protection? This paper compares church advocacy on illegal mining and mental health. Because of heightened media coverage, both issues emerged on the public agenda during spring 2017. Yet churches mobilized on the former but not the latter. Why? Situated in the scholarship on social movements and studies of religion in African society, the paper argues that coalition building, historic church-state relations, and issue framing explain the difference. The paper is based on interviews conducted in Ghana in early 2017, as well as analysis of media reports. Email CURA@bu.edu for the paper in advance.