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TRANSCRIPT: Cooperman on Religion and Politics in Africa
<i>Alan Cooperman, Associate Director of Research for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, briefed U.S. Africa Command staff members on how attitudes on religion, politics, and culture impact engagements in Africa, June 15, 2010 at the Kelley
Alan Cooperman, Associate Director of Research for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, briefed U.S. Africa Command staff members on how attitudes on religion, politics, and culture impact engagements in Africa, June 15, 2010 at the Kelley Barracks Theater in Stuttgart, Germany. The findings were based on a 19-country survey in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Pew Research Center is an American, non-advocacy "think tank" based in Washington, D.C., and provides information to all COCOMs throughout the world pertaining to issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. For more information on the findings, visit The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life The complete transcript of Cooperman's presentation is available below: CHAPLAIN (COL) COLWELL: On behalf of our commander, General Ward, as well as the outreach directorate, Paul Saxton's direction, I want to welcome you here today. A little bit of housekeeping upfront. This is about an hour-long session. We intend to have plenty of time, 30 minutes, for questions and answers. I've told our guest speaker that you are a very smart and intelligent crowd, so the pressure's on. The Pew Research Center is an American think tank based in Washington, D.C., and provides information to us and all other COCOMs throughout the world issues, attitudes and trends that shape the United States and the world. I've been asked by our speaker to make it very clear to you that Pew is a non-advocacy think tank. It does not take positions. It only offers information. Our guest today we're very fortunate to have with us is Mr. Alan Cooperman, who is an associate director for research at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. He came to the Pew Research Center in 2009 after a 27-year career in journalism, the last 10 years of which he worked at The Washington Post. During his decade at the post, he worked in many parts of the newsroom, including five years as a national staff writer covering religion. He also served as the deputy foreign editor and national security editor. In the latter capacity, he helped oversee the Post Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Before joining the Post in 1999, Alan was foreign editor of the U.S. News & World Report, where he oversaw eight foreign bureaus and a staff of Washington-based reporters, covering the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council and various intelligence agencies. Alan also spent eight years as a foreign correspondent. Six of those years were in Moscow as a reporter for the Associated Press and bureau chief for the U.S. News & World Report, a period in which he covered the breakup of the Soviet Union, economic upheaval and the Russian wars in Chechnya, times two. He won numerous awards for his coverage, particularly for the joint investigation with CBS's "60 Minutes" on a documentary involving nuclear smuggling from the former USSR. Alan also spent two years in Jerusalem, Middle Eastern bureau chief, the U.S. News & World Report, where he reported from seven countries, including Iraq under Saddam Hussein. And, lastly and perhaps most important, Alan, you live in Washington, D.C. with two sons. It is our great pleasure to have you here today. Please, let's welcome Alan Cooperman. (Applause.) ALAN COOPERMAN: Thank you, Chaplain Colwell. Can you all hear me? (Off-side conversation.) I'm very pleased to be here and try to brief you a little bit on a survey. (Off-side conversation.) This is a survey that the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life did in Africa. We did 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, about 600 million people in those countries, about 75 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa. We chose the 19 countries in order to span the region geographically. Also, to cover countries of various colonial backgrounds, linguistic backgrounds religions mix. Did about 25,000 face-to-face interviews in 60-plus languages and dialects. (Off-side conversation.) Going to ask before we get started why it is that the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life would spend an excess of $1.5 million to do a giant survey in Africa -- why Africa? And I don't need to tell -- sometimes, when speaking to audiences about Africa, I note that the U.S. military just two years ago, created this thing called the Africa Command as an indication of the increasing strategic importance of Africa. But to this audience, I'll say the main thing to realize is that Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, is where religion really matters and of particularly where interreligious relations, where the rubber hits the road. Africa is the only continent on which members of the two largest faiths in the world, Christians and Muslims, live in roughly equal numbers. The 19 countries that we surveyed are the ones with the highlighted letters. And, Damien, the next slide, please. Sudan is not considered by the United Nations to be in sub-Saharan Africa, so we didn't hit Sudan. We hit countries that range from overwhelmingly Christian to overwhelmingly Muslim and a range in between. Next slide, please. I'm going to try to go through this quickly. I want to give you the historical background. This is not from the survey but very important to understand what's happened in Africa. An incredible, incredible religious transformation on this continent in the space of little more than a century. In 1900, 11 million Muslims lived in sub-Saharan Africa. That number, in absolute numbers, doubled and doubled and doubled and doubled and doubled again. It's now 234 million. And in percentage terms, it rose from 14 percent to 29 percent. The number of Christians in Africa back at the turn of the century, 1900, were about 7 million Christians in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, 470 million -- even faster growth than the Muslim population. That's a nearly 70-fold increase. Now, what you're not seeing here -- next slide, please. (Off-side conversation.) It's just too faint to see -- it's a line that starts up here at 76 percent. This is the percentage of people who followed African traditional religions -- sometimes in the West called animism, ancestral religions of one sort or another. Back in 1900, less than a quarter of the population was either Christian or Muslim. More than three-quarters followed African traditional religions. Look what's happened in the course of a century -- down to 13 percent -- while Christianity has exploded -- again, just sub-Saharan Africa -- and Islam has more than doubled in percentage terms and risen something about 25, 30-fold in absolute terms. And this number -- 13 percent -- is, if anything, on the high side. In fact, in the 19 countries that we surveyed, the percentage of people who said that they adhere to an African traditional faith and not Islam or Christianity was less than 10 percent in every country but one. Had only one country, Liberia, where it was approaching the 13 percent number. It was about 12, 13 percent in Liberia. In most countries, it's practically zero. The reality is that in sub-Saharan Africa today, virtually everybody identifies as either a Muslim or a Christian. Next slide, please. This is a fascinating map because this is not a map of population, Muslim and Christian, but rather of ratio. The darkest green represents a ratio of 200-to-1 or more Muslims-to-Christians. The darkest blue represents a ratio of more than 200-to-1 Christians-to-Muslims. Look at this. 10th parallel goes right across the continent from Ethiopia and Tanzania across, right across, to Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau. And this white represents a ratio of 1-to-1. So it's sub-Saharan Africa where Muslims and Christians are intersecting. The north is overwhelmingly Muslim; the south, overwhelmingly Christian. The continent as a whole, about equal in numbers, roughly speaking, Muslims and Christians. Just sub-Sahara, all told, about 2-to-1 Christian-to-Muslim. But again, vast numbers of people, Muslims and Christians, living together. Next slide, please. Next slide, please. And there's the famous 10th parallel right across. You all heard about the 10th parallel. You all know it better than I do. I'm going to run through these main findings just very quickly. Keep going, keep going, keep going. I'm not going to waste time on this. You will get to extremism but I want to run you through some basic religion in sub-Saharan Africa first. Next slide. I mentioned that almost everybody in sub-Saharan Africa today identifies as either a Muslim or Christian but I want to make a more important point than that. They're not only nominal Muslims and Christians. By numerous measures, they are very, very observant Muslims and Christians -- some of the most religious levels we find anywhere in the world, and we've done these sorts of surveys all around the world. So in the United States, 40 percent of Americans -- and it's been studied for decades -- 40 percent of Americans tell us that they go to church at least once a week. Whether they actually go that much or not, I don't know. But that's what they tell us. Very important from a survey point of view. The lowest level found anywhere in Africa is 50 percent higher than the level in the United States, which is the most religious of all the advanced industrial countries. Look at these levels of weekly worship. The median among Christians - 81 percent; Muslims - 87 percent. In the United States, 57 percent of people tell us that religion is very important in their lives. In Africa, in every country we surveyed, it's 90 percent or more. Next slide. In the United States, 33 percent of the U.S. population, adults, tell us that they believe, first of all, that the Bible is the Word of God and, secondly, that it is the literal Word of God. The question we ask is, which comes closer to your view? The Bible is the Word of God or the Bible is a book written by men and is not the Word of God? That's the first part of the question. The second part of the question is, and would you say that the Bible is to be taken literally word for word, or not everything in the Bible should be taken literally word for word? So in the United States, we have a tripartite division. About one-third of people say the Bible is not the Word of God, about one-third of the people say the Bible is the Word of God but should not be taken literally and about one-third says it is the Word of God and should be taken literally. Look at Africa - 76 percent of Christians, 80 percent of Muslims. The question wording is identical except we substitute the Quran. These are among the highest levels you find anywhere in the world. Next slide, please. End-times expectations - amazing. More, more than half of all the Christians in every country we surveyed tell us they expect the return of Jesus in their lifetimes. We don't have exactly a parallel questions for Muslims but we ask about the reestablishment of the caliphate, the golden era that followed the death of the prophet Muhammad. Look at the percentages, from 30, roughly speaking, up to 69 percent in Mozambique with a median of about half of Muslims who expect the reestablishment of the caliphate during their end-time. Again, very high levels of millennialism. Next slide, please. Now, at the same time that we have -- and I could go through numerous measures of the degree to which Muslims and Christians in Africa are not only nominal Muslims and Christians but very observant Muslims and Christians, very high percentages who say they tithe or give zakat, very high percentages who say they fast during Lent or Ramadan, and so on. At the same time, we find persistence of these African traditional religions. Fancy word for it is syncretism. By the way, you find something very similar in the United States. We can talk about that later if you want -- questions. The percentage who believe in the protective power of sacrifices to spirits or ancestors -- and look, the median among Christians is not substantially lower than the median among Muslims; four countries -- big ones, important ones, in which -- well, at least some of them are, but in which more than half the population says it believes in the protective power of sacrifices to spirits or ancestors. Next slide, Damien, please. Percentage who believe in witchcraft - look at this - the four leading countries -- Tanzania, a majority-Christian country, 93 percent say they believe in witchcraft. Look at the medians here, Christians and Muslims, virtually identical. Next slide, please. This is a scale that combines a total of 11 different measures. Seven of beliefs, including belief in the evil eye, or that certain people can cast curses that cause harm; belief in evil spirits; belief in witchcraft; belief in reincarnation, which we define as being born again and again in this world; belief in juju or amulets and shrines; and the protective power of sacrifices to spirits or ancestors, the one we just looked at a moment ago. And we also look at four beliefs. Do you believe in the protective power of spiritual people as well as possession of African sacred objects? Do you participate in traditional ceremonies to honor ancestors? And do you participate in puberty rituals such as female genital mutilation or circumcision? And use of religious healer? We put these all together and look at the combined ratios and we find that Tanzania is the highest but it's significant in many countries. And again, the medians for Muslims and Christians are not that far apart. A little bit more among Muslims but not substantially. Overall, we find a lot of variation in degree of ATR from country to country but not a lot of variation between Muslims and Christians in particular countries. Next slide, Damien. One of the interesting things that we find in surveys is that in whole countries and even at the level of individuals, people can hold contradictory beliefs or attitudes at the same time. We may see this in ourselves even if we look inward. Whether people or how people reconcile these inconsistencies or even whether they recognize them as inconsistencies, I can't tell you. The survey data doesn't tell me that. Next slide, Damien, please. In Africa, we get very high percentages of people who say it's important for political leaders to have strong religious beliefs. And we also get very high percentages -- next slide, Damien -- of those who say it's okay if their political leader's faith is different from their own. This is one of the very significant measures we have in this survey of what I'll call tolerance, a degree of willingness. In this case, if you ask this question in Africa, it's not like you ask it in the United States. If you ask people if it's okay if their political leaders are a different faith, they don't think Methodist versus Presbyterian. They're thinking Muslim/Christian. That's the context in which they live. And look at these rates. Almost every country above 50 percent. Next slide, Damien. When we ask about hostility from others, do you think in your country that many people, most people, just some people or very few people are hostile toward Muslims or Christians? And we find that the majorities in most countries say that relatively few Muslims are hostile toward Christians and relatively few say Christians are hostile to Muslims. Next slide, Damien. When we ask about religious freedom, this is a -- this line at the end is the total percentage of people who said that in their country, people of other faiths -- faiths other than their own -- are very free to practice their religion. Then we asked a follow-up question - and would you say this is a good thing or a bad thing? So what I've done here is super-imposed the percentage who say it's a good thing on top of the percentage who say that people in their country are very free. And look at these rates. So this red represents the percentage of people in each of the 19 countries who say that others are very free to practice their religion and it's a good thing. We're finding surprising -- I think, maybe, to some people -- degrees of religious tolerance. Next slide, Damien. We asked a series of one-word associational questions about traits - which of these characteristics do you associate with Muslims, we asked. And which of these characteristics do you associate with Christians? And we asked about the same four positive traits and the same four negative traits. And what we find is that most Christians say Muslims are honest. Most Muslims say Christians are honest. Most Christians say Muslims are devout. Most Muslims say Christians are devout. Most say the other is respectful of women. And relatively few associate negative characteristics with the other side. Next slide, Damien. Again, a composite kind of slide where I've taken honest, devout, tolerant and respectful of women; also, violent, selfish, immoral and arrogant; put them on a numerical scale -- four negative, four positive -- and see where people stack up. And we find that, by and large, Christians are quite positive about Muslims. And Muslims are even more positive about Christians than Christians are about Muslims. Let me just stop and repeat that. We find in Africa, Muslims' attitudes toward Christians are more positive than Christians' attitudes toward Muslims. Next slide, please. Okay, I told you, I promised you I would get to extremism. And now we're going to talk some about some sense of that and of interreligious tensions and divisions. This looks like a lot of colors. It's a little bit hard to see. But again, the end of the line and these numbers here -- they're kind of faint; I hope you can see them -- represent the total percentage of people in each country who said they're concerned about religious extremism in their country. And you see it, it goes from pretty low rates in a couple of countries -- significant, though, in almost every country -- up to a fair number of countries where it's, let's say, about half or more in about 12 of the 19 countries where people say they are either very concerned or somewhat concerned. But even more interesting than that, we asked a follow-up question. Are you most concerned about Muslim extremist groups or Christian extremist groups? And what we find is that in some of the more Christian countries, more people are concerned about Christian extremism than they are about Muslim extremism. In South Africa, more concerned about Christian extremism than about Muslim extremism. But in the more Muslim countries, more concern about Muslim extremism than about Christian extremism. And I can't show it to you on this but we've run the crosstabs. We can see that in many countries, Muslims are more concerned about Muslim extremism than they are about Christian extremism. And in four countries where there are large numbers of Christians, Christians tell us they are more concerned about Christian extremism than about Muslim extremism. And you can see this as a half glass full/half glass empty. High concern about extremism but people seeing extremism within their own religious group. Next slide, please. This slide is -- this is an amazing question to me. If I asked you, how much do you know about, say, Islam, and I said, would you say you know a great deal, would you say you know some, would you say not very much, or nothing at all? I think a lot of you might say -- well, you might be reluctant to say, I know a great deal, but you'd probably say some. We are really surprised -- in Africa, most people will tell us that they know either not very much or nothing at all about the other faith. Look at these rates. More than half of Christians saying they know not very much or nothing at all about Islam. And in most of the countries where we have significant Muslim populations, half or more telling us they know not very much or nothing at all about Christianity. Next slide, please. We ask this question in the United States as well. We say, how different is your faith from another faith's? And we ask about a bunch of different faiths. We get about 19 percent of Americans who say their faith -- and most Americans, 85 percent are Christian -- most say -- sorry, 19 percent say their faith is very different from Islam. Look at what we're finding in Africa. The median for Christians - 63 percent telling us Islam is very different from their faith. We just saw these measures of tolerance but now we're seeing the other side of the coin - division and some tensions. Next slide, please. Now, I noted to you that by and large, Muslims are more positive in their assessment of Christians than Christians are in their assessment of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa in the 19 countries in which we surveyed. The biggest single difference is on this question, percentage of Christians who say they see Muslims as violent and the percentage of Muslims who see Christians as violent. It's much higher on the Christian side. Christians are much more likely to see Muslims as violent than Muslims are likely to see Christians as violent. Look at some of the countries where it's highest. This is going to be of interest to some of you country specialists: Chad, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya. Next slide, Damien. Now I'm going to talk a bit about religion in society -- and we've got a few more minutes to go, but quickly, I hope we'll get to questions. I'm sorry, this is kind of a sea of numbers. But I want to put the religious tensions in perspective. When we ask people in Africa, what are the problems in your country, we ask about crime; we ask about corruption; we ask about unemployment, we find many more people telling us they are concerned -- very concerned -- about crime, corruption and unemployment across the board. Those numbers are higher than the percentage telling us they're concerned about religious conflict. So religious conflict is a significant concern. We got 25 percent or more people in most countries telling us that religious conflict is a very big problem in their country. But it's nowhere near the level of concern that they have over crime, corruption and unemployment. By the way, on another question in this survey, we asked whether, during the past year, you've have trouble having enough money to feed your family at times. We found 30 percent or more in every country said there have been times in the past year when they did not have enough money to feed their family. So it gives you a little perspective. Now, the other thing is religious conflict and ethnic conflict. And the numbers are a little bit different but they track pretty closely together. We've got a few exceptions. Kenya is an oddball. But by and large, these two numbers are running parallel across the continent, or the subcontinent. One of the things that indicate to us is that religious conflict and ethnic conflict are bound up together. Next slide, please. Look at Nigeria and Rwanda. Unemployment, 89 percent in Nigeria. Remember, this is a place where there's been a lot of religious conflict. And yet, they're telling us unemployment, corruption and crime are bigger problems to them than religious conflict. Or for that matter, ethnic conflict. Depending on how you assess the situation in Nigeria, something between ethnic, religious and economic conflict, especially in the Jos area. Ethnic conflict, religious conflict in Rwanda. Now, Rwanda and Nigeria are at the top. These are the highest levels. And Rwanda, where they had a genocide - look at that - ethnic conflict and religious conflict. It seems that people in Rwanda in one way or another, even though the genocide was not primarily religious, associate it with religion or at least are worried about the role of religious conflict; the second-highest rate -- and they are tied for highest rate in all of the 19 countries we surveyed. Next slide. We asked about democracy and we tried not to make this question a "gimme." This high, what we call, social desirability in polling. Very easy to say, I favor democracy. So we asked the question two different ways. The wording I've got here on this one is, in which of these statements is closest to your own opinion? One, democracy is preferable to any other kind of government. Or two, in some circumstances, a nondemocratic government can be preferable. And three, for someone like me, it doesn't matter what kind of government we have. That's giving people a real alternative, you know. "In some circumstances, a nondemocratic government can be preferable." But look at this. The lowest rate we find anywhere is 60 percent. It goes up to almost 90 percent. And very interestingly, no gap -- no democracy gap among Muslims and Christians. Muslims and Christians, equally supportive of democracy across the board. Next slide, please. At the same time, remember, contradictions, how people reconcile these things -- I don't know. And again, this is not simple wording. We're not asking, should the Bible be the basis of government in your country? We're asking, do you want to make the Bible the official law of the land in our country? And we're asking on the other side of the question to Muslims, do you favor making Shariah the official law of the land in our country? And look at the rates we find. Gigantic. More than half on both sides in almost every country. And again, look at the medians. Christians are virtually just as likely as Muslims to say they want religious law. Again, the official law of their land in their country. Next slide. We do find a significant difference in support for corporal punishment. Muslims much more likely to support it. Some of these rates -- Djibouti, 70 percent support cutting off of hands. We also about stoning of adultery. We also asked about the death penalty for people who leave Islam. Very high levels of support, particularly among Muslims. Not insubstantial among Christians but dwarfed by the levels -- twice the levels among Muslims. Next slide, please. And high levels of support especially among Muslims for religious jurisprudence; for allowing judges to decide cases on the basis of religious law. Next slide. At the same time, by and large, across the board, most people say Christians are treated fairly most of the time by their governments. We get relatively low numbers saying Muslims are treated unfairly very or somewhat often in our country and relatively low numbers saying Christians are treated unfairly very or somewhat often in our country. Look at that. It's less than 15 percent in more than half the countries. I don't want to leave these out. These are important. But overall, not too bad. Next slide, please. And I knew you'd be interested in this one, al-Qaida. This is not asking individuals whether they support al-Qaida. We think that's a difficult question. People may be reluctant to answer it honestly. We're asking whether they think others in their country support al-Qaida. The median for Christians and the median for Muslims, about the same. In other words, their perceptions are very similar. We're not finding that Muslims are a lot more likely to say people in their country support al-Qaida than Christians are. Let's keep in mind as we're thinking about particular countries, look at the countries that are coming out on top here: Guinea-Bissau, Djibouti, Chad, Kenya. Next slide, please. Justification of violence in defense of religion. Do you think that it is sometimes or often justified to take the lives of civilians in the defense of your religion? And again, the rates are not -- I mean, most people in most countries say no to this question. But we get pretty substantial rates in some places, and in some of the same countries. Again, Guinea-Bissau -- high; Kenya -- pretty high. Median is higher significantly among Muslims than among Christians. Next slide. I thought you might be interested in this as well. This is a kind of generic question. We did ask specifically about Wahhabism; we asked specifically about the Tablighi Jamaat. I can give you that data later if you want. But just in general, asking about the influence of foreign missionaries and preachers, we find that Muslims and Christians both across the board perceive a lot of influence in most countries from foreign preachers. And we also asked that same follow-up question that we asked about freedom of religion. We asked, and is this a good thing or a bad thing? We found that Muslims in particular are rather likely to say it's a good thing. Not insubstantial numbers of Christians -- in some cases, a majority or close to a majority. But look, 75 percent and above in a bunch of countries for Muslims saying there is a lot of influence -- a great deal of influence -- from missionaries and preachers in their country and it's a good thing. Next slide, next slide. Most people in most countries in Africa think Western entertainment has hurt morality -- Western movies, music and television. Next slide. Most also like it. (Laughter.) That's the end. I'll invite your questions, please. Q: What percentage of the population in each country has been sampled? MR. COOPERMAN: The percentages vary. Our sample sizes in every country are 1,000 or more. An interesting thing in sampling -- once you get up to a level of 1,000 or more, your margin of -- well, your statistical probability of accuracy doesn't appreciably decrease even in a much larger country. It's a surprising mathematical fact but if you get a substantial enough sample, it doesn't matter whether the country has 10 million people or 100 million people. Q: How dispersed was the sample across the country? MR. COOPERMAN: That's an excellent question. And by the way, all of this is completely available. Our top line, every question we ask, all the data, the methodology -- all available online and in a printed report. MR.: Alan, can you repeat the question so that we can hear it? MR. COOPERMAN: Yes, the question was about the -- let's see, the first question was sample and the second question was -- oh, yes, geographic stratification. So in 17 of the 19 countries, the sampling was geographically all across the country, in proportion to whatever the best data was -- census data when available, demographic and health survey data if good census data wasn't available -- matching the basic parameters of the population. In two countries because of the security concerns, the sample was a little more urban than rural. But other than that -- now, the other issue we had with sampling, in Africa, when you go and do face-to-face interviews, even when you send out female interviewers as well as male interviewers, you get a certain number of cases -- and it's almost unavoidable -- in which women in the household will defer to a man to answer the questions. And so unfortunately, in some countries, we have a slightly higher percentage of men answering the question than women. And this was the biggest problem in Senegal. But for the most part, it's okay. We ran those figures very carefully. Even if we weighted the answers by a greater percentage of women, it would not make a statistically significant difference in the results. Please? Q: In the group that you surveyed, did you break down especially on the Christian side whether they identified as Catholic, Mormon or fundamentalist Christians? MR. COOPERMAN: Absolutely. Q: And was there a difference in their view? And also on the slide -- you had the slide about Muslim missionaries. Was there also the same question on the Christian missionaries' side of what the effects were in the country? MR. COOPERMAN: Yes, actually, I showed you that on -- just go back quickly, Damien, a couple slides to missionaries. And this is among Christians, so this is Christian missionaries and this is Muslim missionaries. Oh, I'm sorry. No, you're right. This is Muslim missionaries. Yes, we asked exactly the same question. We do have that and I don't have that slide for you, but it is in the report. And the numbers are significant. Now, on the religious breakdown -- a very complicated issue and let's see if I can remember these numbers off the top of my head. First of all, a very interesting thing: We asked early in the survey about people's present religious faith. We asked later in the survey, we said -- now, thinking about when you were growing up, what was your religion? So we didn't ask people whether they had converted, but at two different times in the survey we asked about their faith. And we are able to see those who told us that, growing up, they had a different faith than they do today. And we ran some extensive analysis of that in every country and what we find -- it's very interesting -- is that there is some religious switching going on in sub-Saharan Africa --some Muslims becoming Christians, some Christians becoming Muslims. But it's basically awash in every country but Uganda. Uganda is the only place where there's a significant number of people moving from one tradition to the other, and they're moving from Islam to Christianity. About 30 percent of the people in Uganda tell us that they were raised Muslim, now tell us that they're Christian. Now, within Christianity, the breakdowns -- we can give it to you extensively. And it varies from country to country and we can tell you exactly what percentage of Methodists, Baptists, et cetera, including the African-initiated churches and Orthodox in Ethiopia, for example. But I think the most interesting thing is the switching. There is more switching within Christianity, more significant net flow, than there is between Christianity and Islam. And in a bunch of countries, there is net flow from Catholicism to Protestantism. There is, I think, one country where it's the reverse, and it's a net flow from Catholicism to Protestantism (sic) of a few percentage points, but significant. And just one last, inside Christianity, note - Pentecostalism. We found in virtually every country in which there's a significant Christian population, 10 percent or more of the people identified as belonging to Pentecostal churches. In about four countries, it was 25 percent or more. We also asked about a series of practices that are strongly associated with Pentecostalism, such as speaking in tongues. And we found that there is very high rates among Christians of these Pentecostal practices, even among Christians who do not belong to Pentecostal churches. So a lot of influence. All right, you here in the middle, sir. Q: Yes, did your survey tell you anything about the 19 heads of state in those countries? MR. COOPERMAN: No. We did ask about satisfaction but we did not ask about specific heads of state. Yes, ma'am. Q: My name is Claire Buselitz (ph). I'm one of the social scientists here at AFRICOM. MR. COOPERMAN: Nice to meet you. Q: I've been doing research in Africa for over 10 years, mostly in rural areas. And I'll caveat it first by saying as a political scientist who lives qualitative research, I'm sort of skeptical about survey research. But one of the things I have a question about is the 13 percent -- ATR, you call it -- because my experience with talking with people about religion is that they will say that they're Christian or Muslim and be very forthcoming about it, but then after church they'll go and see their traditional healer, or they'll go see their -- you know, the person who practices witchcraft. And they won't see that as religion. They'll see is as just something completely different. So I'm just wondering, you know, how accurate that 13 percent is. MR. COOPERMAN: Well, the 13 percent is accurate, but your point is also accurate. And the two things are just not in contradiction. Q: Right. MR. COOPERMAN: First of all, I agree with you. One thing to note in the measure is we asked people what is their faith, first of all. And then we also asked separately about a whole bunch of beliefs and practices. And so one of the things we find is that 13 percent is the highest level in any country -- and that's only in Liberia; in every other country, it was much smaller -- is the percentage of people who identify as following an African traditional religion. We gave them numerous possible names for that, that they could choose because after all, ATR is a rather sociological term; who follow an African traditional religion and not Islam or Christianity. I'm not saying that there aren't lots of Muslims and Christians who, at the same time, observe some African traditional beliefs and practices. Again, we asked about a total of 11 different beliefs and practices. Q: Sometimes they combine them as well. MR. COOPERMAN: Absolutely. Now, what you're raising is the question that I said I just can't answer. That is, how do people reconcile these things, or even, do they see them as contradictions that require reconciliation? And what you're suggesting, I think, is a very plausible solution. I think that for a lot of Africans, these may simply be different categories and that African traditional beliefs and practices, for them, are a cultural background that they grow up with. They're not an identification in the same way that Christianity and Islam are kind of akin to a membership organization. But exactly the point -- I do want to fight back on one point, where you suggested they're just nominal Christians or Muslims because that's not what we're finding. I can go through a whole series of measures. We asked people about their beliefs and practices -- belief in one God, for example. Overwhelming -- it's 90 percent or more -- in every country, say they believe in one God; percentages who tell us that they, as I said, to give zakat, or tithe, the importance of hajj to Muslims, and so on. These are not nominal Muslims and Christians, by and large. They are among the highest rates we find anywhere in the world on these measures. So at the same time that they are observant Muslims and Christians, they are also participating still in these traditional beliefs and practices. Whether they see that as contradictory or not, I don't know. My guess is they don't see it as contradictory enough that they have to go one way or another. Q: Well, in relation to that, my last question is, what are we supposed to do with this situation? I mean, what's the "so what"? MR. COOPERMAN: That I can't tell you because I'm not here to answer would, should, could questions. I think that you could take any number of things away from it. I hope that you'll take away a little bit better understanding of the role of religion, not only in individuals' lives, but in societies in sub-Saharan Africa. I hope you'll take away the notion that it's not all cut and dried, but there, at the same time, can be tolerance and tensions. People can say that they want their government leaders to be religious and yet it's okay if they're of another faith. And at the same time, they can be overwhelmingly supportive of democracy -- and as I showed you, not a "gimme" question on democracy. We asked it two different ways. There's a real, legitimate kind of "other" that they could answer on that question -- strongly supportive of democracy and yet, also strongly supportive of Biblical or Shariah law. Dr. Brown? Q: Just another point on this. I've observed that there is no real contradiction because you made the point, I think, correctly, that many of these traditional beliefs are the cultural backdrop. Like, in Senegal, you'll see that a Christian marabout among the Mandinka, a Muslim marabout among the Wolof, have a similar traditional-belief system and the same kind of practices and the symbolic magic and witchcraft. While, when you look at the Dambala coast and the west coast, Gold Coast, how they integrate it into religion -- in the Candomble coast, Brazil, or the voodoo coast of Haiti -- similar African traditional-belief systems mixed in, integrated into the foreign religious systems. Like in Barbados, 99-percent Christian, none of whom believe in witchcraft, all know how to get rid of an unwanted guest -- spread [44:27] seed. MR. COOPERMAN: Amen. And let me just add that this is not just in Africa. Again, the fancy word for it is syncretism and it is everywhere. So let me just pull out my cheat sheet here. In the United States -- we've long known in the United States that about 25 percent of the population believes in reincarnation, which we define in our survey very carefully so that people will not confuse it with, say, the Resurrection. But it might surprise you that among white Roman Catholics who tell us that they go to church at least once a week, 22 percent also tell us they believe in reincarnation. It might surprise you to know that among white evangelicals who tell us they go to church at least once a week, 10 percent believe in reincarnation. Now, you might think, okay, reincarnation, somehow or other, they get around that. What about astrology? As I recall, astrology is not part of the Christian tradition. In the United States, among attending Catholics in general, those who say they go to church more than once a week -- 23 percent tell us they believe in astrology. We didn't ask whether they read horoscopes. We said, do you believe in the predictive power of astrology? Among white evangelicals, we found 13 percent. And I can go on and on and on. We did a whole survey on this in the United States, mixing and matching. Mixing and matching is a cultural universal. And people attach a lot of negative pejoratives to syncretism. I'm not here to tell you it's good or bad, but I am here to tell you it is a reality. It's a cultural reality in Africa. It's a strong reality in the United States as well. In the middle, please, with the red tie? Q: I actually have written on the question of what good -- (inaudible, off mike). Many writers have written on the subject of referring to African religion as religion-light, and the fact that you will not have, except in certain areas, extremism because of the animist influence on the overall religion itself. And that'll be a governing factor because of just what the very nature of that is. And especially because of the ancestor-worship that takes place. They won't do anything that their ancestors will be disappointed in. For example, every time you drink your first cup of palm wine, you throw it on the ground first before you sip your own, in reverence to your ancestors. But one anecdotal point - in Southern Africa, we were talking to a chief of staff of one of the air forces one time. He said, we have a very, very difficult time getting people to pass the psychological exams to take part in our program. We said, well, what exactly is the problem? And he said, well, the first question that we ask everybody is, do you hear voices? And of course, all of the -- you know, a certain population will go, no, no, no, by all means. And then later on in the question, do you respond to these voices? And of course, with this animist background, yes, they do hear voices. That's their ancestors. And they do respond to them. And until they changed their questionnaire, very few people got into the pilot program. I mean, just, that's -- we have the same problem with -- MR. COOPERMAN: It's a wonderful story. And let me just amplify it a little bit. I talked about the high levels of Pentecostalism. And I think that it's clear that Pentecostalism fell on very fertile ground in Africa, especially when we ask about things like healing through prayer, like exorcisms and seeing someone miraculously revived. Those sorts of things are very common, both among those who identify as Pentecostals or tell us they go to Pentecostal churches and among Christians in general. And also, Dr. Brown, on the persistence of these traditional beliefs and practices, in our U.S. survey, when we asked about the evil eye, one figure just pops off the charts: 32 percent of black Protestants in the United States believe in the evil eye, which we define as -- write in the survey question, that is -- that certain people can cast spells that cause harm. So I don't know how far back that goes, but these syncretic traditions carry on. You talked about voodoo, Santeria -- that's African traditional religion just transported across the world. Q: Just another point. You talked about concern about Christian terrorism and you pointed to South Africa. MR. COOPERMAN: I said extremism. Q: Oh, extremism. In the South African context, you know, that's associated with the Afrikaner Broederbond -- MR. COOPERMAN: Yes. Q: -- who have really demonstrated willingness and preparedness to engage in terrorism. You don't see that size of a sample in -- (inaudible, cross talk). MR. COOPERMAN: Well, Rwanda is a place, interestingly, in which people have a lot of concern about ethnic conflict and in which one senses a lot of inter-Christian tension -- Catholic, non-Catholic. And Rwanda, interestingly, is one of the places where the percentage of people who tell us they're Catholic today is lower than the percentage of people who tell us they were raised Catholic, in a statistically significant different. Yes, ma'am. Q: Yes, I have a question about your democracy question, which was on one of your slides. MR. COOPERMAN: Yeah. Can you go back to that, Damien? Q: We obviously have democracy in the United States, but at one time we considered ourselves to have democracy and yet, women couldn't vote and black people couldn't vote and et cetera. So I'm wondering if the democracy question had been framed in terms of a certain definition, or at least, a cultural understanding of what is meant by that term. MR. COOPERMAN: No. And I'll just tell you in general that pollsters have kind of different ideologies about this. And there are some polling groups that will provide a lot of information to people. Even in the United States, if they'll be asking about health-care reform, they'll tell them what is in the bill and then say, what do you think about it? The Pew Research Center doesn't like to do that. We just have found that the way that you provide information to people biases their answer. It's true that when you ask the question in a very generic way, you don't know exactly what you're getting. But you know that you haven't biased it. You're getting some more pristine attitudes. Exactly what those attitudes are, I don't know. We asked the democracy question two ways. I showed you one way, which is, which of these three statements comes closest to your own opinion: Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government; or, in some circumstances, a nondemocratic government can be preferable; or, for someone like me, it doesn't matter what kind of government we have. You need to give people that third option, that out, I think. The other way we asked the question -- and again, we tried for these not to be "gimme" questions because there is a social desirability effect unquestionably associated with democracy. We asked, some people feel that we should rely on a democratic form of government to solve our country's problems, others feel that we should rely on a leader with a strong hand to solve our country's problems -- which comes closest to your opinion? Even when we found that question, we found the lowest rates were 49 percent in Zambia, up to 89 percent in Rwanda. And in most places, eyeballing it here, I'm going to say 60 percent or more -- in a lot of countries, 75 percent or more -- support democracy. Again, we gave them a viable nondemocratic answer and they still chose democracy. Whatever they meant by democracy -- excellent question -- I don't know. Please follow up. Q: Well, also, in terms of the educational background of the different folks who were surveyed, do you happen to know what percentage of them were educated? You know, primary school education -- MR. COOPERMAN: Yeah, we can give that to you. We can give it across -- we give it to you in each country rather than across the total sample. But yes, we can absolutely give that to you -- income, et cetera. We matched the national parameters for education. So that's among the things that we -- when we do samples, we want to be nationally representative in terms of education levels. It varies from country to country, so -- yes, sir. Q: In terms of what we do with this information, on your question -- Captain Carmichael (ph) from HOA -- MR. COOPERMAN: Nice to meet you, sir. Q: STRATCOM division. I take this information and it tells me that we have to rethink what we're doing because right now, we're missing the point. In engagement outreach, what we're trying to do here is -- I mean, the demand signal here is very paramount. Interfaith religious summits, coming together, religious meetings are very, very needed. And I was there when Chaplain Habash (ph), a Muslim imam from the Air Force, came down, and we walked through the mosque with Chaplain Snyder -- the Christian chaplain, of course -- and I saw the heads turn. I saw the interest that we had. I saw the volume that we had as soon as we walked in. And one of the demand signals that they wanted down in Djibouti is that rather than having a religious meeting every two weeks -- I mean, for two weeks, every six months, someone met them there. They wanted more meetings to talk about the peaceful tenets of the Muslim faith, to talk about the similarities between Christianity and Islam. And across the Horn, the demand signal is very, very bright; very, very strong. And for an engagement outreach office, we have to answer that. And whether we should or shouldn't, that should be addressed. But I think this poll, focus groups that I've seen from AFRICOM, say the same thing over and over again. We can sidestep this all we want to, but in order to -- people are saying, Africans are saying, this is how you reach me. I've talked to many kids during these discussion groups in Djibouti -- 200 -- and I'm telling you, one of the things that they are very, very strong on is their Muslim faith. And seeing Christians and Muslims working together, that is amazing to them. MR. COOPERMAN: Excuse me for looking down while you were speaking. What I was going to in my top line is a question we asked: Does the mosque, church or house of worship where you most often attend religious services -- wait a minute, let me find the right one -- engage in -- work together with Muslim mosques to find solutions to community problems? Or, in the case of -- that's if we asked a Christian. For speaking to a Muslim, we would say, and does the mosque or house of worship where you most often attend religious services work together with Christian churches to find solutions to community problems? And we do have some data on that. It's sizeable percentages: 20 percent or more, in most countries, say that their church or mosque already is engaged in interfaith activity. Not surprising that you see much more of that in the countries -- in that first map, where they're lighter shaded -- where Muslims and Christians are living together. You see much less of it in the predominantly Muslim or predominantly Christian countries. Also note that across a number of these measures -- we looked at, for example, east-west. We frankly thought that we would probably find more concern about preachers from outside, about extremism, in the Horn, for example. We thought that we would find more African traditional beliefs and practices in the west. By and large, we were wrong. We didn't find that. We found extremism concerns, al-Qaida, concern about Muslim and Christian preachers varying from country to country, but no clear pattern where it's a lot stronger in the Horn than elsewhere. We did find -- Djibouti stands out. Guinea-Bissau stands out, but not a clear pattern there. And you know, on a number of these measures, geography and even colonial background just doesn't prove to be a very good explainer. Yes, sir? Q: In the question on education that also came from the poll, is there any data that exists, kind of, going back in the history of the United States -- how, as income, education and development increases in the U.S. and Western world -- and taking that and looking at Africa currently -- income, education -- probably a little less comparatively? As it increases over time in Africa -- education, income -- other things may change -- (inaudible, off mike). MR. COOPERMAN: Yes, absolutely, it exists. And it's good data, interesting data, time-series data. I mean, one of the disadvantages of this -- and also to answer partly to this young woman's question about, or skepticism about polling -- let me just point out the obvious. This is a single snapshot in time. I'm not making any claims other than my initial historical data about the rise of Christianity and Islam and relative decline of ATR. I can't tell you whether these measures are increasing or decreasing because we've only done the survey once. We'll repeat it in five years or 10 years. Then I'll have time-series data. On the question of economic development and political development, there is time-series data. It's pretty good data, I think. You might want to go to something called Gapminder on the Internet and look at Hans Rosling's presentation to the U.S. State Department. Hans Rosling does -- he's a Swedish demographer and social scientist and particularly focuses on measures of health and well-being. He does a fascinating graph where one axis is life expectancy and the other axis is average income per capita. And he starts with these little bubbles, representing countries around the world. And they start back at -- I think he starts about 1900, something like that, down in the lower left-hand corner. And you see the countries move up this chart. But you see they move up in varying rates and some very interesting things happen. For example, I guess, a general point -- that most of the Western industrial world, what we think of as the "first world," incomes rose substantially before measures of health and life expectancy began to rise. So we got rich first and then we got healthy. What you see in the developing world is just the reverse, partly because they're developing later. They stayed poor longer and then dramatic increases, especially in the postwar period, in their levels of health and life expectancy. And income followed that. And China is the most fascinating case because China actually went backwards during what was called the Great Leap Forward -- and actually went backwards in its health measures and in its income per capita. But then, with the market reforms, China saw dramatic increases, first, in health and then in income. And a big-picture point that Hans Rosling makes is that the developed world now stands very close to the kind of Second World, middle world, of Asian Tiger countries, Latin American countries that have come very close to the advanced industrial countries in terms of life expectancy and health. Of the approximately 6.8 billion people in the world, 5.8 billion have moved up dramatically, both in wealth and in health. It's the bottom billion that's lagged behind. It's no longer the third world. It's just one small segment of the third world. MR.: One last question, if we have it. MR. COOPERMAN: Yes, sir? Q: In the course of your research, did you find any correlations between religious belief, religious adherence and the role of women in the society? MR. COOPERMAN: Absolutely. Thank you very much for asking. Damien, let's go to the last slide. I put together a very small battery of -- back one from this -- gender. Okay, first slide. Female circumcision, female genital mutilation, female genital cutting -- the terms are controversial, so I'm using them interchangeably. Please don't read anything into the fact that, that term is there. What we find, very interestingly, in sub-Saharan Africa in the 19 countries we surveyed, is that the very highest rates are in a few countries that are overwhelmingly Muslim. However, there are a number of countries -- important countries, like Nigeria -- where the rate among Christians is higher than the rate among Muslims. Look at that -- 16 percent, 11 percent. By and large, this is a practice that is not entirely religion-bound. It cuts across -- it's a cultural practice that cuts across both faiths. Next slide. (END)
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