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Accepted Paper:

Liberation Theology and Development: A Quest for Justice  

Author:

Alice Karuri (Strathmore University)

Paper short abstract:

Faith based organisations have long engaged in interventions to alleviate poverty. Using the lens of liberation theology, this paper advances the need for a practical theology that addresses the socio-economic context of poverty, and argues that development is at its core, a quest for justice.

Paper long abstract:

Faith based organizations, local and international, have long engaged in interventions to alleviate poverty. Less prominent however, has been the attempt to address the political and economic injustices that are often the cause of poverty and inequality. Liberation theology applies Christian theology to political, social and economic oppression. First articulated in Latin American in the 1960s, the practical theology that addresses injustice and oppression has found expression in various forms and in different locations and time periods. In post-independent Kenya, the advent of multi-party democracy, referred to as the second liberation, was marked by political oppression and intimidation. A small cadre of clerics spoke publicly against these injustices, leading to a backlash from both political and faith leaders. In the time period since the inception of multi-party rule, political and economic injustices have continued albeit in different forms. These include oppressive international trade practices, inequitable distribution of resources, corruption and politically instigated ethnic polarisation. This paper examines the role of faith in going beyond alleviating poverty, to address the injustices that lie at the root of poverty and inequality. Using the lens of liberation theology and the engagement of faith leaders during the multi-party advent in Kenya, this paper advances the need for a practical theology that addresses the socio-economic context of poverty, and argues that development is at its core, a quest for justice.

Panel P06a
Decolonisation, development and faith I