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Spelman College

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

Senegal: Global Security and Religious Pluralism


Senegal is a country renowned for its peaceful religious pluralism in the midst of turmoil and demographic change in neighboring West African nations. Though the vast majority of the population adheres to Sufi Islam, they seem to live in peace and cooperation with the prominent Catholic minority. Wedged between these well-established groups, Protestantism struggles to distinguish itself. Protestant missions have been planted in Senegal for over a century, but the church remains small with almost no cultural presence, and up to 80% of its members are non-Senegalese. This paper will present some preliminary basic research about this oft-ignored community in Dakar in an attempt to better understand the ways in which an immigrant church navigates cultural identity. In particular, it focuses on the ethic of proselytization in the missional Protestant church and the ways it interacts with and challenges the Senegalese ethic of peaceful coexistence. Literature on the history of Christianity and Protestantism in the region, as well as the current dynamics of global religious growth and the changing landscape of modern missions foreground the discussion. Interviews conducted with Protestants from many different churches, positions, and denominational backgrounds illuminate the place of the Protestant Church in Senegal. Observation of religious gatherings, services, and meeting place supplement interviews in this paper as context. This research will attempt to bring insight into the cultural adaptations beginning to take place in the seed of a national church and the challenges they expose within the ethic of pluralism in one of the world’s shining examples of “laicité.”


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Christian Denominations and Sects | Community-Based Research | History of Religion | International and Intercultural Communication | Missions and World Christianity


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