ICLRS Research Advisor
Michel Alokpo, Benin
Minister Alokpo began his presentation by expressing his love for religion. He was born into one religion and converted to another. Benin has 8 million inhabitants. Christianity is 50%, Islam 20%, and traditional religion 28%. Aug 1, 1960 Benin won its independence from France. Benin has experienced several military coups, the most recent of which was a very dictatorial Marxist Leninist regime. Churches closed because religious authorities didn’t accept Marxism. That philosophy didn’t fit the philosophy of the country.
Foreign missionaries fled the country after the Marxist-Leninist coup. Certain pastors resisted and held their ground against the Marxist power and continued to preach the gospel. Some were afraid and hid. Most of the Catholic schools closed. The schools were nationalized. The level of student achievement declined. The facilities suffered greatly. Minister Alokpol expressed his view that “turning our back on god, god left us alone. We had to wait for the President to hear the gospel, be converted and denounce Marxism.”
Later, after the dictator converted to Christianity, Benin adopted a new constitution that allowed for new freedoms, including freedom of thought and religion.Each religion in Benin is free to practice free from restriction. The three religions work together in tolerance. Benin is a very blessed country.
In response to a question, Minister Alokpol noted that when a child is born, he has to follow the religion of the parents. If the parents have different religions, the child may choose the religion when he turns 18. Neither father nor mother may impose religion after he turns 18.