Jennings, “Great Risk for the Kingdom”

Jennings, Mark Alan Charles.  2017. Great Risk for the Kingdom: Pentecostal-Charismatic Growth Churches, Pastorpreneurs, and Neoliberalism.  In, Multiculturalism and the Convergence of Faith and Practical Wisdom in Modern Society, Ana-Maria Pascal, ed.  Pp. 236-249.

Abstract: Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity (“PCC”) has successfully navigated the challenges modernity poses to religion, growing rapidly in the twentieth century. Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, neoliberalism began its ascent to its current hegemonic status. Neoliberalism reconfigures social institutions as marketized practices with a measurable ‘payoff’. PCC adapted to this challenge in the form of a “growth churches,” adopting many of the characteristics of neoliberalism. In adopting a homogenous model and method of ‘best practice’ in order to facilitate growth; offering a ‘prosperity’ theology that fits well with the development of human capital; and endorsing the universalization of risk through modelling “pastorpreneur” leadership, it is argued in this chapter that growth churches are a paradigmatic example of a late modern religious phenomenon accommodating neoliberalism in a largely uncritical manner. The chapter concludes with some observations that critique this association between neoliberalism and growth churches.

Brison, “Teaching Neoliberal Emotions”

Brison, Karen J.  2016. Teaching Neoliberal Emotions through Christian Pedagogies in Fijian Kindergartens.  Ethos 44(2): 133-149.

Abstract: This article examines a Fijian kindergarten using Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a curriculum produced by an American corporation for Christian homeschoolers, which combines academic and emotion pedagogies. Pedagogies prompting children to label, reflect on, and control their emotions are popular in American schools and said to develop skills necessary to be self-directed, risk-taking entrepreneurs under neoliberalism. In contrast, in Fiji, children educated with the ACE curriculum are told that feeling the correct emotions is a “commitment” and that submitting to authority will benefit everyone. The ACE curriculum appears to turn working-class American children and children in peripheral countries like Fiji into submissive workers in corporations while middle-class Euro-American children are socialized to become innovative entrepreneurs. But further examination shows that Fijian parents and teachers see the curriculum as giving their children the proper skills to succeed in a world outside of Fiji.

McCloud, “American Possessions”

McCloud, Sean. 2015. American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States. New York: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: Stories of contemporary exorcisms are largely met with ridicule, or even hostility. Sean McCloud argues, however, that there are important themes to consider within these narratives of seemingly well-adjusted people who attend school, go shopping, watch movies, and also happen to fight demons. American Possessions examines Third Wave spiritual warfare, a late twentieth-, early twenty-first century movement of evangelicals focused on banishing demons from human bodies, material objects, land, regions, political parties, and nation states. While Third Wave beliefs may seem far removed from what many scholars view as mainstream religious practice, McCloud argues that the movement provides an ideal case study for identifying some of the most prominent tropes within the contemporary American religious landscape. Drawing on interviews, television shows, documentaries, websites, and dozens of spiritual warfare handbooks, McCloud examines Third Wave practices such deliverance rituals (a uniquely Protestant form of exorcism), spiritual housekeeping (the removal of demons from everyday objects), and spiritual mapping (searching for the demonic in the physical landscape). Demons, he shows, are the central fact of life in the Third Wave imagination. McCloud provides the first book-length study of this influential movement, highlighting the important ways that it reflects and diverts from the larger, neo-liberal culture from which it originates.

Alvare, “Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development”

Alvare, Bretton. 2014. Haile Selasse and the Gospel of Development: Hegemony and Faith-Based Development in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(1): 126-147.

AbstractThis article explores the process by which faith-based nongovernmental organizations (FBOs) incorporate, reproduce, and contest hegemonic constructions of development as they attempt to bring the fruits of development to their local communities. The analysis focuses on the National Rastafari Organization (NRO) of Trinidad and Tobago—a small, grassroots FBO, whose leaders designed and implemented a localcommunity development program that, despite being modeled on the Rastafari principles contained in Haile Selassie’s “gospel of development,“ had more in common with the neoliberal national development program being promoted by the Trinidadian government than with the development programs typical of other formal Rastafari organizations in the wider Caribbean region. The NRO did not hold all of the themes, logics, or recommended practices of this gospel of development in the same regard. Instead, their immersion in hegemonic fields led them to seize on those aspects that resonated most with the state discourses of neoliberal participatory development in circulation at the time.

Faith Based: Book Review

Hackworth, Jason. 2012: Faith Based: Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Welfare in the United States. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

By: Amy E. Fisher (University of Toronto)

Jason Hackworth’s Faith Based: Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Welfare in the United States seeks to unravel the “synergies and tensions” (vii) between neoliberals and evangelical conservatives who are ostensibly different and yet mutually engaged in the project of minimizing and opposing the American welfare state. He claims to follow in the steps of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by exploring the ways in which a “secular” economic project is actualized and invigorated by certain Christian ideas. He charts the course of neoliberalism’s relationship to the Christian Right across a range of FBO’s, including Habitat for Humanity and Gospel Rescue Missions; in speeches and articles written by certain conservative Christian “ideologues” (7) and theologians; in official policy statements from the National Association of Evangelicals and articles in Christianity Today; and he looks for signs of its demise in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans. Continue reading

Napolitano, The Atlantic Return and the Payback of Evangelization

Napolitano, Valentina. 2013. The Atlantic Return and the Payback of Evangelization. Religion and Gender 3(2):207-221.

Abstract: This article explores Catholic, transnational Latin American migration to Rome as a gendered and ethnicized Atlantic Return, which is figured as a source of ‘new blood’ that fortifies the Catholic Church but which also profoundly unsettles it. I analyze this Atlantic Return as an angle on the affective force of history in critical relation to two main sources: Diego Von Vacano’s reading of the work of Bartolomeo de las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish Dominican friar; and to Nelson Maldonado-Torres’ notion of the ‘coloniality of being’ which he suggests has operated in Atlantic relations as enduring and present forms of racial de-humanization. In his view this latter can be counterbalanced by embracing an economy of the gift understood as gendered. However, I argue that in the light of a contemporary payback of evangelization related to the original ‘gift of faith’ to the Americas, this economy of the gift is less liberatory than Maldonado-Torres imagines, and instead part of a polyfaceted reproduction of a postsecular neoliberal affective, and gendered labour regime.

Muehlebach, “The Catholicization of Neoliberalism”

Muehlebach, Andrea.  2013.  The Catholicization of Neoliberalism: On Love and Welfare in Lombardy, Italy.  American Anthropologist 115(3): 452–465.

Abstract: In this article, I track the ways in which Catholicism articulates with contemporary neoliberalism. Grounded in an analysis of how neoliberal welfare-state reform in Lombardy, northern Italy, is rendered through core idioms of the Catholic imaginative universe, I argue that the Lombardian case offers general insight into the “moral style” of contemporary neoliberalism. In contrast to the messianic gospel of prosperity exhibited by the Protestant ethic at the turn of the millennium (a gospel that promised instantaneous rushes of wealth through quasi-magical means), the charisma of Catholicized neoliberalism lies not in its rejection of the market but in its injunction that parts of this wealth ought to be redistributed through charitable actions. Catholicized neoliberalism thus hinges on a loving empathetic subject that purportedly repairs the damages of excessive marketization. It couples market rule to moral sentiment, economic rationality to the emotional urgencies of caritas. Although this new culture of feeling and action tends to leave neoliberalism’s basic structural features intact, it also at times allows for the disruption of market rule.

Boyd, “The Problem with Freedom”

Boyd, Lydia. 2013. The Problem with Freedom: Homosexuality and Human Rights in Uganda. Anthropological Quarterly 86(3):697-724.

Abstract: The recent backlash against homosexuality in Uganda, culminating in the introduction of the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has focused tremendous attention on the role religious activists have played in shaping Ugandan attitudes about sexuality. Drawing on long-term fieldwork among the Ugandan born-again Christians at the center of this controversy, I argue that anti-homosexual rhetoric is animated by something more than a parroting of American homophobia. Rather, it reflects a tension between two divergent frameworks for ethical personhood in Uganda, one related to the Ganda value of ekitiibwa or “respect/honor,” and the other based in a discourse of rights, autonomy, and “freedom.” The born-again rejection of a rights-based discourse is analyzed in relation to broader anxieties generated by a neoliberal emphasis on the autonomous, “empowered” individual during a period of growing inequality and economic and political dissatisfaction in Uganda.

Lindhardt, “Pentecostalism and politics in neoliberal Chile”

Lindhardt, Martin. 2012. Pentecostalism and politics in neoliberal Chile. Ibero Americana (Stockholm) 42(1-2): 59-84. 

Abstract: This article explores historical and contemporary relationships between Pentecostalism and politics in Chile. The first part of the article provides an historical account of the growth and consolidation of Pentecostal religion within changing political environments and sheds light on Pentecostal stances to and involvements with the political sphere. In particular, it focuses on how a culture of political disenchantment has emerged in post- dictatorial neo-liberal Chile, creating a symbolic void that can be filled by religious movements. The second part of the article discusses possible affinities between Pentecostalism as a religious culture and democratic principles and values. It argues that although Pentecostalism may contain certain democratic qualities, there is also a striking compatibility between, on the one hand, Pentecostal theistic understandings of politics and social change, and, on the other, a neo-liberal social order, where political apathy is widespread and where a privatised rather than a communal and associative sense of progress predominates

Pearce, “Reconstructing Sexuality in the Shadow of Neoliberal Globalization: Investigating the Approach of Charismatic Churches in Southwestern Nigeria”

Pearce, Tola Olu. 2012.”Reconstructing Sexuality in the Shadow of Neoliberal Globalization: Investigating the Approach of Charismatic Churches in Southwestern Nigeria.” Journal of Religion in Africa 42(4):345-368.

Abstract: This study examines how Charismatic churches in southwestern Nigeria are attempting to construct new social identities through their doctrines on marriage and sexual practices specifically constructed to set them apart from other social groups. I argue that these perspectives on sexuality revolve around narratives of the body, sexual desire, and conjugal sexual pleasure within monogamous marriages. The strong rejection of polygyny and other sexual discourses are linked to the global exchange of ideas. I make the case that an important device for developing these identities is emotion training and a vision for both public and private behavior. This study is a textual analysis of written and audio material that lays bare their theories and practices. The data reveal a focus on shaping sexual desire and building conjugal love, trust, and respect, but the training also molds other emotions such as fear, guilt, and shame.