The social response of Christianity in Angola: selected issues
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1. PROBLEM OF THE DISSERTATION The problem of the dissertation is to define, analyze, and evaluate the social response of Christianity to slave trade, forced labor, and nationalism in Angola. Foremost to the problem of the dissertation are two questions: First, "What were the factors which influenced the response of Christianity to the selected issues?" And second, "Were the responses of Christianity to the selected issues unequivocal?" 2. METHOD OF THE DISSERTATION The principal method of this study is historical-sociological. The historical aspect is concerned with time, place, and events; the sociological describes the social behavior of institutions and peoples. The dissertation will also be a critical examination of the norms inherent in the missionary enterprise. The sources are in Portuguese and in English. 3. CONCLUSIONS i. Responses of Christianity The responses of Christianity to the selected issues were characterized by policies of co-operation, acceptance, avoidance, and opposition. The response of Catholicism to slave labor and forced labor was similar, acceptance which eventually led to a policy of co-operation with the state, slave traders, and labor recruiters. As the Protestant movement in Angola was founded after the heyday of the slave trade, its response could not be measured. On forced labor, Protestantism's response was one of qualified acceptance, respecting the political rights of the Portuguese to govern its overseas territories. Prior to the March 1961 revolt, the policy of both Catholicism and Protestantism on nationalism was avoidance of the issue. After the March 1961 disturbances, Catholicism co-operated with the Portuguese state, a policy to crush the rebellion. The response of Protestantism was one of opposition to the position of the Portuguese state. Within these general patterns of responses, there were always exceptions to the prevailing response of Christianity to each of the selected issues. ii. Factors Shaping Christianity's Response A first factor was Catholicism's identification with the state's colonial policy. For Protestantism, separation from the state placed her in a problematic position; Protestant missions were conscious of their precarious legal position in a Catholic state. But the problematic position was abandoned when Protestantism was confronted by an abrupt disruption of church-state relations after the 1961 revolt. A second factor was that of motivation. Three motivations, often conflicting, predominated in Catholic mission work: the economic, the civilizing, and the Christianizing. For Protestantism, two motivations seemed important, the humanitarian and the evangelizing. A third factor was the colonial situation. Catholicism identified itself with the cultural policy of the colonial state. Protestantism also adapted itself to the colonial situation; its response was existential and expedient. A fourth was the time factor, especially pertinent for Protestantism. In many instances Protestant missionaries refrained from criticizing the contract labor system because previous protests were ineffective. A fifth was the factor of Africanization. The Catholic hierarchy was predominantly European. Consequently, Catholicism's response to nationalism was European oriented. Protestantism's strength was distinctly African; this is one reason why Protestant Africans were suspect after the northern revolt in 1961. iii. Dilemmas In a broad sense the dilemmas for Catholicism and Protestantism were analogous. On the one hand, opposition to the policies of the state involved a rupture in t he relationship between Christian groups and the state, disaffection by European settlers, and the threat of expulsion from the country by the state. Christianity's support of the policies of the state, on the other, invited a compromise on the ethical position of Christianity on these problems; it prolonged the colonial situation; it made the church an instrument of the state's aim to civilize; and, it alienated the African population from the Christian church.
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