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Post-Genocide Rwanda: The Changing Religious Landscape

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This paper seeks to examine the proliferation of Pentecostal churches and the changing religious landscape of Rwanda. The horrific genocide of 1994, left the country's traditional mainline churches bloodied and the Christian faith seriously challenged. Unlike elsewhere in Africa, prior to the genocide, Pentecostal churches had not got a foot-hold in Rwanda, then referred to as the most Catholic country in Africa. In the aftermath, Rwanda has experienced a spontaneous growth of new churches imported by returnees from far and wide. Though the Catholic Church still retains its dominant position, there has been an upsurge of Protestants and the Rwandan religious landscape is changing considerably. This gospel explosion has been attributed to the enormous challenges of social-economic reconstruction of a fractured society, where reconciliation and healing are of utmost importance. By packaging their messages with hindsight of the disillusionment with the traditional churches and the spiritual as well as the material need to arise from the ashes of genocide and rebuild their lives, these churches have attracted thousands of Rwandans.

Affiliations: 1: Research Director, Life & Peace Institute, Uppsala, Sweden


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