Abstract: Neo-Pentecostal or born-again language and understandings are highly prominent in Kenya. They were especially visible during the general election of 2013 in which the victorious Jubilee coalition campaigned using a narrative according to which the nation was being washed clean of past sins, redeemed, and born again. This was attractive to and reflected the desires of Kenyans seeking to move beyond the horrors of the postelection violence that occurred in 2007-2008. This provides an invaluable lens for conceptualising current Kenyan understandings of African Christianity and how these relate to politics and contemporary socioeconomic conditions. More specifically, this paper argues that in 2013 a popular desire for health and wealth, and deference to authority came together with personal but abstract repentance and forgiveness narratives. This contributed to a peaceful election but restricted the means through which criticism might be voiced and helps to maintain structural inequality and impunity.
Abstract: In much of the work on Pentecostalism and development to date, Pentecostals have been considered as individual, adult converts adopting new (in contrast to traditional) socioeconomic approaches. These are seen by some authors as having transformative results for personal wellbeing and economic success as they are no longer subject to the restrictions of state, nation and society; others present opposite conclusions. As an alternative point of departure, this article considers that Charismatic, Pentecostal Christianity has been of great importance in the creation and evolution of Kenya as a state and nation. This understanding is used to illuminate the themes that dominated the country’s general election of 2013 and its developmental ramifications. It is suggested that exploring Pentecostalism at the level of nation and state, whilst continuing to allow for the importance of conceptions of personal responsibility, offers an additional and complimentary approach for exploring Pentecostalism and development.
Abstract: The author argues in this paper that the ‘state effects’ generated by religious movements – even those operating at the margins of societies – require us to consider anew the impact of religious movements on state formation. In Sri Lanka, for instance, evangelicals are a minority. Yet their practice of proselytizing to new audiences was considered ‘unethical,’ generating opposition that was directed not only at them, but also at ruling elites for failing to stem what was seen as an intrusion of incompatible ‘Western’ ideals. Instead of considering how such Christian movements seek to ‘take over’ the functions of the ‘state’ as has been the experience in the United States and parts of Latin America, the author illustrates in this article why it makes more theoretical sense to ask how their activities impinge upon the conceptual frameworks through which the ‘state’ is imagined.
Abstract: Although sexual minority rights have not necessarily generated polarised views within Christian churches and organisations, the subject has tended to forge an arena of contestation between liberal and conservative constituencies. Theological differences have frequently been manifested through the mobilisation of ‘cause’ groups lobbying the political realm and public opinion in order to advance their contrasting standpoints. Based on a survey of documentation and supplementary materials produced for public consumption, this article considers responses of the conflicting rights petitions of Christian cadres either endorsing or opposing minority sexual rights and the relevant legislative enactments in the UK. The article seeks to illuminate how these competing constituencies further their causes while at the same time devaluing the rights claims of their adversaries.
Silcott, William & Jens Kreinath. 2013. Transformations of a ‘religious’ nation in a global world: Politics, Protestantism and ethnic identity in South Korea. Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14(2):223-240.
Abstract: In an increasingly globalised world, matters of national identity are no longer confined solely to domestic politics. This paper proposes that Christianity in South Korea is engaged in a mutually reinforcing relationship with the construction of Korean national identity, particularly concerning historical dynamics of both Westernisation and the formation of nationalism. In positioning the role of religion in the creation of a national image, the conflicts and contestations between religious groups will become politically effective. As actors in the political and religious field attempt to reflexively create an image of Korea that transcends national borders and anticipates to overcome domestic and ethnic divides, religion becomes more than an article of faith through its entanglement with national politics. By recognising the impact of Westernisation and its historical implications for this process, it becomes possible to approach the formation of Korean identity from a new angle by accounting for the efficacy of the self-reflexive image.