This piece is part of the special feature on Donovan Schaefer’s interview for the Religious Studies Project – “Is Secularism a World Religion?” As a scholar of African Traditional Religion, I explore how Secularism as a political order, the allegedly “neutral” terrain for all religious traditions, functions in an almost similar manner as the World Religions Paradigm in marginalizing “subsidiary” religious discourses in favor of the “major religions of the world.” Doing work in contemporary West Africa, I have observed that the Eurocentric differentiation of various epistemologies is practically a constant in how these categories are put into action in modern political discourse. In the former British West Africa, Secularism is inherently conceptualized as an antithesis of Christianity, or Abrahamic traditions more broadly. Due to the lack of harmonization with the indigenous belief systems, the ensuing secular legal framework is not adequately equipped to recognize the latter in the same ranks as Christianity or Islam. As a result of secular legal codes continuing to privilege what Saba Mahmood calls a “ghost of Christianity,” other ways of being religious end up being relegated to the margins.
“The Journey of Secularism: In the Footsteps of the World Religions Paradigm.” 2019. Implicit Religion 22(1): 72-77.