Combining Christianity and Traditional Religion in Madagascar

Andriamahita Andre


Many Malagasy people combine Christianity and Traditional religions in their religious practices in Madagascar. They identify themselves as Christian but still perform practices related to Traditional religion. This paper aims to determine how this combination between two religions, which have different principals, is possible. Hudgson advances the concept of inculturation that is well adapted to our research. By using a comparative method between Christianity and Malagasy traditional belief, we are able to understand why Christianity did not face fierce resistance from natives who encounter the first missionaries, and also how Malagasy Christians did not abandon their traditional religion. Data used in this research is from an ethnographic field work undertook by two missionaries, but also coupled with my own field work conducted in Madagascar. The main findings in this paper are that Traditional Christianity and Malagasy Traditional religions have a lot of similarities and even sometimes complementary, which allow compromise between them. Nonetheless, a new form of Christianity does not allow any form of compromise with Malagasy Traditional religion, even more, it challenges the Traditional Christianity. This new form of Christianity adopts a radical perspective about religion.

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