The government was not following its own stated policies of religious neutrality; indeed it was allowing priests to meddle in the affairs of the state. Colonial policy must favor Catholic missions not as a matter of religious favoritism, he said, but because the Protestants encouraged revolution.Footnote 58, Hemptinne grossly exaggerated Protestant support for African independence. In theory, most missionaries affiliated with the CCC agreed. 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. Facebook; Twitter; Tumblr; LinkedIn ; StumbleUpon; Reddit; Digg; Mixx; Del.i.cious; Google+; Few countries in Africa proved more receptive to the work of Christian missions than the Belgian Congo. 22 Kabongo-Mbaya, L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre, 25. To ensure that Belgian power remained intact, the colonial government of the 1920s expanded the cooperation between (Catholic) church institutions and state power. Yolanda Covington-Ward is a professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. The CPC responded in the 1930s with religious freedom appeals that once again framed Protestant missions as a way to bolster Congolese loyalty to the regime. He warned that Protestants taught the dangerous idea that “the individual liberty of the natives must be respected” (La liberté personnelle des indigenes doit être respectée) and that they should have the freedom to assemble and build churches and schools. These missionaries merely presented themselves, in contrast to the Catholics, as the more benevolent civilizing force. In the 1880s, as he sought to secure control against competing interests from France and Portugal, the king cultivated support from missionaries who were to engage in the work of “civilizing” Africans and ending the slave trade. 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. 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. When the conservative Baptist missionaries in Kivu refused government educational subsidies, which violated their commitment to church-state separation, Congolese Baptists protested that their communities desperately needed the practical benefits that subsidies provided. Students at these schools could sit for exams that qualified them for desirable government jobs, for instance, while those enrolled at the “foreign” Protestant schools were ineligible for the exams and shut out of those jobs. Since 1878, when the first Protestant missionaries (Baptists) arrived, their numbers grew impressively to 2,000 (some 1,200 of them Americans), plus 5,500 Roman Catholics. 1936, G 3 A 11/1, Special Collections, University of Birmingham Library. Language. To prevent colonial conflicts from occurring on the continent, the European powers met at the Berlin Conference to hammer out some ground rules. 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. While establishing this religion in the country, the belief was held by Belgium colonizers that Catholicism would lead to a more disciplined… 25 For a detailed account of Congolese chiefs who navigated between traditional authority and the demands of Catholic missions and the colonial regime, see Loffman, Reuben, “In the Shadow of the Tree Sultans: African Elites and the Shaping of Early Colonial Politics on the Katangan Frontier, 1906–17,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 5, 3 (Aug. 2011): 535–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar, https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2011.611668. -The Congo was given independence from Belgium in 1960 and gained control over their own government, education and resources Negative: -Belgians destroyed the existing political structure of the country, when the Congo was given independence from Belgium the indigenous people did not have any political structure "relatedCommentaries": true, A rebellion broke out in several eastern districts in 1919 and was not suppressed until 1923. Yet by the 1950s and 1960s, many missionaries actively supported anti-colonial movements around the world. Pierre Ryckmans served as Governor-General of Belgian Congo from September 14, 1934 to December 31, 1946. Mwana Lesa was not. Such denials and clarifications exerted subtle disciplinary pressures on a colonial government that was constantly constrained—not only by foreign missionaries but by Protestants and Liberals in Belgium as well—to prove that it honored the secular principles of Belgian and international law. They had no role in legislation, but traditional rulers were used as agents to collect taxes and recruit labour; uncooperative rulers were deposed. Search within descriptions. The remaining cases dramatized the need for “secular authorities” to provide “even-handed justice and restrain the activities of ill-advised individuals.” They described priests who “beat Protestant catechists, seize and destroy their identity cards, tread under foot and burn their Bibles, and threaten them publicly with imprisonment, just as if they had the police authority of the State.”Footnote 66 This memorandum strategically presented Catholicism as a problem not only for Protestants but also for the future of Belgian rule in the Congo, suggesting a clear distinction between the interests of the colonial government and those of the Catholic Church. French. Map of Church Mission areas in the Belgian Congo, Hippolyte d'Ursel. At: http://www.empire.amdigital.co.uk/Documents/Details/A%20Protestant%20Protest (accessed 9 Sept. 2019). 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. It was through this lens that Catholic missionaries judged the Prophet Movement. 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. Along with the Catholic priests, it blamed the misapplication of colonial law by a few bigoted officials.Footnote 68 Implicitly, the CPC identified any Congolese anti-government and anti-Church attitudes, which Catholics attributed to libre examen, as an understandable reaction to brutal treatment at the hands of the priests. First, the post-colonial political leaders of Congo and Rwanda continued the Belgian colonial policies. 01 January 2020. Even in rejecting these demands, government officials constantly stressed their fidelity to the ideal of religious freedom and other principles of international law. Type. Arguing that colonial authorities had misunderstood “the purely religious character of certain manifestations,” they nevertheless acknowledged that the government “had to take severe and immediate measures to check the ‘Prophet Movement’ which [had become] rapidly favourable soil for propaganda hostile to all white men, endangering civilization itself.” Thus, they granted legitimacy to the government's concerns while still placing Kimbangu (and the missions) clearly on the religious side of the religious-political divide. In response, Protestants in Belgium and in the Congo identified the freedom of conscience as a necessary condition for human progress and for the modern state. The Belgian Congo (French: Congo Belge, Dutch: Belgisch-Congo [lower-alpha 1]) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa between 1908 and 1960 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).. Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. Orientation Identification. Research mode. 20 Minutes of the Meeting of the International Missionary Committee, Lake Mohonk, New York, 1 Oct. 1921, box 4, folder 2, Papers of the International Missionary Council, Missionary Research Library, Union Theological Seminary (hereafter, IMC Papers, MRL, UTS.). Quoting the papers from the recent International Missionary Council meeting in Jerusalem, Hemptinne suggested that the Protestant missionaries endorsed the “Wilsonian principle of self-determination” and desired an “honest conversation” between colonizers and the colonized that would result in the overthrow of Belgian colonial rule. Christian missions varied widely in their aims and their consequences, both intended and unintended, and in their relationships with European and U.S. empires. Congolese church leaders gradually took more active roles in the CPC and finally, in 1959, gained the status of full members with equal leadership opportunities. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the primary role of the Church, both in religion and education, was to promote colonialism. 59 Russell, H. Gray and Smith, Herbert, eds., After Sixty Years, 1878–1938: Report and Findings of Conference (Leopoldville, Congo Belge: Conseil Protestant du Congo, 1938), 52Google Scholar. Yet, as in many other mission fields, they spoke together as Protestants against their common rival, the Roman Catholic Church. 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. "openAccess": "0", Lippens had proposed a restructuring plan that would have placed all villages, even those effectively managed by Catholic missions, under direct government control. From 1885 to 1908, Belgian King Leopold II took control of the Congo. 2 Minutes from the Congo Protestant Council Meeting, 13–19 Feb. 1931, p. 7, box 289, fiche 93, Papers of the International Missionary Council-Conference of British Missionary Societies, SOAS, London (hereafter, IMC-CBMS, SOAS). This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgian-Congo. The Mwana Lesa controversy further confirmed Belgian suspicions of Protestant missions and, in the process, helped solidify the Belgian Congo's particular configurations of church and state. Their land colonial government was subtler but perhaps equally profound colonial regime the. Ever-Stronger pressures for reform authorities similarly came to see Kimbanguism as part of a revolt. 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