Christian Participation in Politics. A Case Study of United Evangelical Church in Uyo Local Government Area

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2022

52 Pages


Table of Contents









1.1 Background of the Study

The relationship between Christianity and politics is a historically complex subject and a frequent source of disagreement throughout the history of Christianity, as well as in modern politics between the Christian right and Christian left. There have been a wide variety of ways in which thinkers have conceived of the relationship between Christianity and politics, with many arguing that Christianity directly supports a particular political ideology or philosophy. Along these lines, various thinkers have argued for Christian communism, Christian socialism, Christian anarchism, Christian libertarianism, or Christian democracy. Others believe that Christians should have little interest or participation in politics or government (Aruwan 2013:201).

Politics and religion are two deferent entities that help in the growth and development in human existence, despite the fact that both have parallel practices, but they share some common goals which are beneficial to man. As religion importance to human life so also politics, though some religious extremists do see politics as a dirty practices and abstain themselves from it and also preach the same to their followers, but still is of a tremendous important to them. The early missionaries distant Christianity from politics especially in some African countries, and this brings a significant abstinence towards politics by Christian, and they transfer that to their children, which brought about wrong impression that some Christian have on politics and its importance to human existence. Besides, the way some of the politicians are practicing it today makes it look dirty in the eyes of some committed Christians, and they see the politicians as fraudulent people (Cassel 1999: 99).

Political involvement is a vital tool for the development or underdevelopment of every society today, the society that has good people representing them in the political circle are experiencing development and growth but those societies that are unfortunate to have bad (i.e. those that don’t have the society at heart) are not experiencing development nor growth as it should be, that has led to a point that some concern citizens are advocating for people to get involve in political practices with a very meticulous care and concern during the excises, for whom they should elect as their representative should be people they know with good reputation and ambition, because development and growth of any society lied in the hands of who they elect to represent them. Danladi Musa in his workReligious leaders prevail as Alabama shuns lotterysays that “it now generally accepted that one of the main ways that Christian can positively influence the society and make a difference is to get involved in politics, business and social action. By so doing Christians will truly become the light and the salt of the society.” If these are to be achieving for the good of the Church and the society at large then it is necessary for Christians to get directly involvement in the politics. And this should be with the purpose of giving better leadership and beneficial governmental activities in the right direction (1993:19).

The Christian message reiterates that political power is an inherent part of the world. It is not taken but given and thus some fundamental limitation is imposed on it. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12.17 and parallels, Revised Standard Version Not only is politics limited by ethics, but social hierarchies are turned upside down, since the greatest shall be the servant. Violence needs to be exposed the other cheek available for a second slap so as to have some chance of ending escalation. After its recognition as the religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity developed the idea of a spiritual power checking political power, but with similar political means. In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformation stressed the responsibility of political rulers and citizens, and political laws as well as church governance were shaped by more participative models. Anabaptist traditions emphasized pacifism and commended laying down arms. The Roman Catholic tradition was late in acknowledging democratic patterns. Claims against injustice remain unabated (Garrison 1999:42). It is on this note that this study seeks to examine the Christian participation in politics with a case study of United Evangelical Church in Uyo.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Politics they say is a game of interest. Though it is believed that there is no permanent friend, no permanent enemy, but the only thing that is permanent is permanency of interest. These interests breed greed, selfishness lack of honesty, distrust, corruption to mention but a few. All this attributes in politics give rise to the saying that “politics is a dirty game”. It is on this backdrop that the researcher intends to investigate the Christian and political participation with United Evangelical Church in Uyo as the case study.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objectives were to:

- To investigate the importance of Christian participation in politics.
- To evaluate the role of Christians in electing political office holders
- To ascertain the moral implication of Christian participation in politics
- To ascertain the impact of Christian participation in politics in United Evangelical Church.

1.4 Research Methodology

The research method employed in the study was oral interviews and critical historical method with primary and secondary sources consulted.

1.5 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study covers the Christian participation in politics in the United Evangelical Church.

1.6 Limitation of the Study

In the course of the study, the researcher encounters some constrains which limited the scope of the study. Some of the constrains encountered by the researcher includes:

-Availability of research material:The research materials available to the researcher were insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
-Time:The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
-Finance:The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.7 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of significant importance to the christdom, as the findings intend to spell out the importance and advantages of Christian participation in politics. The study will also be beneficial to the political parties as the will take advantage of the teeming population of the Christian by extending their hand in fellowship to invite them to become members of political parties thereby gaining numerical strength. The findings will also be of great importance to the academias as the findings will add to the pool of knowledge. And finally the study will be of great importance to students, teachers and the general public.

1.8 Purpose of the Study

It is pertinent to state that the main purpose of this study is to examine the Christian participation in politics. With emphasis on The United Evangelical Church in Uyo. Also, the purpose of this study is to reawaken the essence of political participation among churches.


2.1 Review of Literature

Political Participation refers to actions by ordinary citizens directed towards influencing some political outcomes (Brady 1999:153). Earlier definitions of political participation were primarily focused on electoral participation activities such as voting and campaigning (Campbell 1954:54). The focus of political participation has since then expanded to include a number of related activities, such as protests, demonstration, petition signing, donations, volunteering and community services. A number of approaches have emerged to classify these activities. Some of these classifications propose categories like conventional and nonconventional participation (Barnes 1979: 97), legal and illegal political participation, and institutional and non-institutional political participation. Among recent classifications are those of Teorell (2007) in his workPolitical participation(27) and Ekman and Amna’s (2012)Political participation and civic engagement(218). Teorell conducted a multi-country analysis of political participation and proposed a typology of political participation by categorizing it into voting, consumer participation, party activities, protest activities and contact activities (34). Ekman and Amna further expanded this classification and included latent participation which comprises pre-political activities, such as general discussion on politics, consumption of political news through newspapers, TV or Internet and debating in local community affairs (19).

Based on the Teorell’s conceptualization, “Dimensions” of political participation represent the underlying criteria based on which various categories of political participation are identified. In their study they have identified two dimensions. First is the ‘Channel of Expression’ which differentiates between participatory activities taking place within the framework of ‘representation’ from those outside it (extra-representational). Second dimension is the ‘Mechanism of Influence’ which can be of two types: ‘Exit’ based or ‘Voice’ based (52).

Based on the combination of these dimensions or various other dimensions identified by different authors in different works, various acts of political participation can be classified under certain clusters. These clusters are often referred as “Types” or “Modes” of participation. For example, based on Teorell’s identification of above two dimensions, they have proposed five types of political participation as: Voting, Consumer Participation, Party Activity, Protest and Contacting. Finally, the Indicators of political participation represent the actual activities that citizens may take up under each of the categories. For example, under the type “Party Activities” citizen may exhibit activities like having membership in a political party, participate in party activities, donate money to a political party, do voluntary work for a party etc. Similarly, under other types of political participation there may be various activities that indicate the participation under those types (25).

2.2 Theoretical Framework

2.2.1 Teorell (2007) Typology of Political Participation

In this study, the researcher use the logic proposed by Teorell (2007:27) in determining the dimensions of political participation. Though there are various other classifications of political participation proposed (Verba & Nie 1972:72; Ekman & Amnå 2012:47) the researcher found the typology by Teorell as the most structured and theoretically grounded. Teorell adhere to the definition of political participation given by Brady (1999:142): ‘action by ordinary citizens directed towards influencing some political outcomes’. Their article highlights a few important aspects of this definition. First important consideration is that, as per Brady’s definition, political participation is an ‘action’, that is, an observable behaviour. Therefore, an intention to participate or interest in political issues cannot be considered as participation. Secondly, this observable behavior should have been undertaken by individuals who are ‘ordinary citizens’. Actions by politicians, paid lobbyists and elected officials cannot be considered as citizen participation. Thirdly, this action needs to have a motive of ‘influence’. General discussion of politics among relatives, friends or peers may not be considered as participation. In the case of social media based political participation, the posts publicly shared by and commented on by social media users can be considered as one’s having a motive of ‘influence’ as those posts are available to everyone in the social media platform irrespective of whether they are friends with the creator of posts or not. This effectively makes such posts capable of influencing the society. Finally, the ‘political outcomes’ that are influenced by political participation, could be related to some government personnel, a state agent or any authority that can take allocative decisions in the society.

Teorell classified participation activities into different clusters based on the two underlying dimensions. First dimension is the ‘Channel of Expression’ which differentiates between participatory activities taking place within the framework of ‘representation’ from those outside it (extra-representational). The representational activities may include actions that are directed at formal channels of representation such as political parties, elected representatives, government personnel and civil servants (47). The ‘extrarepresentational’ activities on the other hand may be directed towards firms, mass media or general public. Second dimension is the ‘Mechanism of Influence’ which can be of two types: ‘Exit’ based or ‘Voice’ based. Voting is an example of Exit-based participation. Few common features of Exit-based participation, as discussed by Teorell are: such participation is often impersonal or even anonymous; the message sent out is vague, that is, in terms of pros or cons but not in terms of specific arguments; the process of expressing preferences is self-regulatory; and the pressure for change is created by the count of votes. Voice based activities, on the other hand, involve people manifesting demands to public with specific arguments, and it is the intensity of these arguments that create the pressure for change. These activities include public debates, demonstrations, protests and campaigns where participants present the specific arguments they are in favour of. Based on the above discussion, Teorell categorized political participation activities under five classes as: voting, party activity, consumer participation, contacting, and protest activity (51).

2.3 Politics in the Circular

Politics is about the acquisition of power and the use of such power. The Oxford Dictionary of Words defines politics as “matters concerned with acquiring or exercising power, within a group or an organization”. Nkem Onyekpe defines the term politics as: “The struggle for power which itself is the authority to determine or formulate and execute decisions and policies, which must be accepted by the society… it is the struggle for power of governance, especially executive authority (Nkem 1997:199). Onyekpe however gives a caveat to the first part of his definition. According to him, the struggle for or the acquisition of power and the reaction of the society to it, depend greatly on the level of political development of the country. In an undemocratic society, it does not really matter whether the decisions and policies are accepted by the society. Thus the value of political power or politics leaves little or no room for the people to have input, except where democracy has already been entrenched. In a plutocratic system of government, like we have in Nigeria in recent past, political actions entrenched in, policies and social values attached to them are function of the value system and the political orientation of the ruling stratum. Presently, the Nigeria society is in the process of demilitarization and it is not surprising that elements of plutocracy are still visible. From the above, the researcher observed that politics is all about struggle for power as it relates to use and control of such power in governance. Thus politics involve stage governance and how the political leaders acquire their mandate. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. History of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato'sRepublic, Aristotle'sPoliticsand the works of Confucius. Kelley in his workWhy Conservative Churches are Growingadds that modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way people choose government officials and make decisions about public policy (Kelley 1977:177).

2.3.1 The Varieties of Political Experience

According to King in his researchA Solution to the Ecological Inference Problemsays that Aristotle, States are classified into monarchies, aristocracies, democracies, oligarchies, and tyrannies. Due to an increase in knowledge of the history of politics, this classification has been abandoned. Generally speaking, no form of government could be considered the absolute best, as it would have to be the perfect form under all circumstances, for all people and in all ways. As an institution created by human nature to govern society, it is vulnerable to abuse by people for their own gain, no matter what form of government a state utilizes, thus posing that there is no 'best' form of government. All States are varieties of a single type, the sovereign State. All the great powers of the modern world rule on the principle of sovereignty. Sovereign power may be vested on an individual as in an autocratic government or it may be vested on a group as in a constitutional government. Constitutions are written documents that specify and limit the powers of the different branches of government. Although a Constitution is a written document, there is also an unwritten Constitution. The unwritten constitution is continually being written by the Legislative branch of government; this is just one of those cases in which the nature of the circumstances determines the form of government that is most appropriate. Nevertheless, the written constitution is essential. England did set the fashion of written constitutions during the Civil War but after the Restoration abandoned them to be taken up later by the American Colonies after their emancipation and then France after the Revolution and the rest of Europe including the European colonies (King 1997:93).

Layman, in his studyThe Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politicsposits that there are two forms of government, one a strong central government as in France and the other a local government such as the ancient divisions in England that is comparatively weaker but less bureaucratic. Family plays an important role in politics, without a strong family it’s almost impossible to be a strong position. These two forms helped to shape the federal government, first in Switzerland, then in the United States in 1776, in Canada in 1867 and in Germany in 1870 and in the 20th century, Australia. The Federal States introduced the new principle of agreement or contract. Compared to a federation, a confederation's singular weakness is that it lacks judicial power. In the American Civil War, the contention of the Confederate States that a State could secede from the Union was untenable because of the power enjoyed by the Federal government in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches (Layman 2001: 202).

According to professor A. V. Dicey inAn Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, the essential features of a federal constitution are: a) A written supreme constitution in order to prevent disputes between the jurisdictions of the Federal and State authorities; b) A distribution of power between the Federal and State governments and c) A Supreme Court vested with the power to interpret the Constitution and enforce the law of the land remaining independent of both the executive and legislative branches (71).

2.4 Politics in Religion

Today what do we mean when we talk about religion? Scholars have struggled and argued for many years about how to define religion. Some emphasize the idea that religion is concerned primarily with conceptions of God, divinity and the meaning and order of human existence. Others have tended to emphasize the way religion serves to draw distinctions between sacred (that is, transcendent or other-worldly) forms of space and belief and more mundane, or profane, domains of ‘worldly’ human Endeavour. Some definitions, such as that of anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1973:173), focus on the symbolic power of religion and its ability to influence how people understand their place in the world and also to impart meaning to the actions they undertake. Other scholars have pointed out that the idea of religion as a distinct category or sphere of human activity reflects a specifically Western worldview and historical tradition. Talal Asad (1993:113) points out that in other cultural traditions it is not so easy to make a firm separation between religion and other spheres of life such as politics. However, the researcher will assume that when we are talking about religion we are referring to individuals and groups who base their identities and ethics at least in part on a tradition and set of beliefs about the creation of the world and the order within it that locates the source of this creation and order outside purely human or natural agency. So where do we see religion at work in global politics today? Many people if asked this question right now might think first and foremost of the Islamic world.


Excerpt out of 52 pages


Christian Participation in Politics. A Case Study of United Evangelical Church in Uyo Local Government Area
Political Science
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ISBN (Book)
Christian, politics, political participation
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MfonAbasi Okon (Author), 2022, Christian Participation in Politics. A Case Study of United Evangelical Church in Uyo Local Government Area, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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