Chad Table of Contents

The separation of religion from social structure in Chad represents a false dichotomy, for they are perceived as two sides of the same coin. Three religious traditions coexist in Chad-- classical African religions, Islam, and Christianity. None is monolithic. The first tradition includes a variety of ancestor and/or place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam, although characterized by an orthodox set of beliefs and observances, also is expressed in diverse ways. Christianity arrived in Chad much more recently with the arrival of Europeans. Its followers are divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants (including several denominations); as with Chadian Islam, Chadian Christianity retains aspects of pre-Christian religious belief.

The number of followers of each tradition in Chad is unknown. Estimates made in 1962 suggested that 35 percent of Chadians practiced classical African religions, 55 percent were Muslims, and 10 percent were Christians. In the 1970s and 1980s, this distribution undoubtedly changed. Observers report that Islam has spread among the Hajerai and among other non-Muslim populations of the Saharan and sahelian zones. However, the proportion of Muslims may have fallen because the birthrate among the followers of classical religions and Christians in southern Chad is thought to be higher than that among Muslims. In addition, the upheavals since the mid-1970s have resulted in brought the departure of some missionaries; whether or not Chadian Christians have been numerous enough and organized enough to have attracted more converts since that time is unknown.

Classical African Religions

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress