Christianity and Politics

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Abstract

The process tracing of the relationship between Christianity and politics in Korea versus Kenya led to the discovery of similar trajectories that are based on two underlying conditions: a) a large portion of the country’s population is Christian, and b) religious groups have historically invested in the democratization processes. These two conditions led to: 1) government or political parties’ desire to co-opt the religious group or leaders to increase its voting power or political influence, 2) religious leaders or churches proposing to provide stewardship or governance to the government, and 3) some mainstream churches trying to stay neutral upholding separation between the church and state in the aftermath of democratization. After democratization, a trend of church partisan political polarization has intensified. Kenya’s polarization has aggregated along interethnic/tribal fault lines. The partisan polarization of the South Korean church has intensified with left-oriented social change advocacy condemned by right-wing actors as threatening South Korean sovereignty in the face of the North Korean continuing threat. South Korean political actors utilize sectarian movements to mobilize activists and voters, while South Korean sectarian leaders in turn utilize this political relationship to legitimize their civil society existence and activity. The Kenyan and South Korean cases provide further evidence of the global resurgence of religious identity as a vehicle for political activism to direct the governance capacities of the sovereign state.