For God and Country: Religion, Politics and Polarization

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    Religion has always been one of the most potent forces of world politics. Modern Ethiopian politics is no exception to this. Religion has been a rich and fascinating dimension of Ethiopian history. The contours of religion in Ethiopian politics have seen unprecedented developments throughout the twentieth-century. State religion was abolished following the 1974 Revolution, one of the central events of twentieth-century Ethiopia. Secularization began only with the Revolution, following which the country become a constitutionally secular state. This continues well after the 1991 regime change. Since then, attempts were made at coming to terms with the past hegemony of Orthodox Christianity in the Ethiopian polity. There is no doubt that Ethiopia’s national identity is shaped by it. Over the past decade or so, several religious groups begun to reassert their demands and places in the Ethiopian society. These include Muslim Ethiopians and the several strands of Ethiopian Protestantism. Since recently, religion has also emerged as an important political cleavage. Thus, there is a timely need to understand and explain the rising influence of religion and religious movements in Ethiopia. Under this thematic area, authors are encouraged to examine the interplay between politics and religion in terms of, among others, the politics of religious pluralism, religion and development, religion and governance, religious polarization and fundamentalism, religion and political behavior, religion and the public sphere, religion and public policy, and the politics of secularism. By making informed dialogues, discussions and debates on matters religious/politics, the participants would contribute to the “search for new solutions to Ethiopia’s old problems”.

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