Longkumer, “The power of persuasion”

Longkumer, Arkotong. 2017. “The power of persuasion: Hindutva, Christianity, and the discourse of religion and culture in Northeast India” Religion 47(2): 203-227.

Abstract: The paper will examine the intersection between Sangh Parivar activities, Christianity, and indigenous religions in relation to the state of Nagaland. I will argue that the discourse of ‘religion and culture’ is used strategically by Sangh Parivar activists to assimilate disparate tribal groups and to envision a Hindu nation. In particular, I will show how Sangh activists attempt to encapsulate Christianity within the larger territorial and civilisational space of Hindutva (Hinduness). In this process, the idea of Hindutva is visualised as a nationalist concept, not a theocratic or religious one [Cohen 2002 “Why Study Indian Buddhism?” In The Invention of Religion, edited by Derek Peterson and Darren Walholf. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 26]. I will argue that the boundaries between Hindutva as cultural nationalism and its religious underpinnings are usefully maintained in the context of Nagaland because they allow Sangh activists to reconstitute the limits of Christianity and incorporate it into Hindu civilisation on their own terms.

Gaiya, “Charismatic and Pentecostal Social Orientations”

Gaiya, Musa A. B. 2015. Charismatic and Pentecostal Social Orientations in Nigeria.  Nova Religio 18(3): 63-79.

Abstract: This article identifies two responses to social challenge by charismatic Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. I argue that churches taking a centripetal position are either socially passive or they collude with corrupt leaders and groups who undermine efforts toward political, social and human improvement; yet, in their engagement with society they offer spiritual solutions to myriad social and political problems. Conversely, churches taking a centrifugal approach try to confront political and social problems, but these churches are relatively few and located primarily in Lagos, although they are growing in influence. I conclude that charismatic Pentecostalism in Nigeria currently is shifting from strictly spiritual solutions to sociopolitical problems to an emphasis on meeting social needs in practical ways.

Lau, “Intimating the Unconscious”

Lau, Alwyn.  2014. Intimating the Unconscious: A Psychoanalytical Refraction of Christian Theo-Political Activism in Malaysia.  Critical Research on Religion 2(3): 280-298.

Abstract: The political activism of Christians in Malaysia is in an emergent phase. Despite significant advances, especially after the milestone general elections of March 2008 (where the ruling National Alliance regime lost its two-thirds majority in parliament), many Christians hesitate to engage politically and when they do, their engagement is incoherent. Based upon a survey and critical analysis of media statements by leading Christian organizations, this article argues that Christian activism remains anemic in part due to political theologizing which suffers from incoherency, inconsistency, a diminished view of the political, and an over-reliance on the rational. The article intimates that the kind of political discourse and theologizing adopted by the church would benefit from an application of psychoanalytical categories. It concludes by suggesting that psychoanalysis cannot only provide new categories with which to re-imagine political issues in Malaysia but also reinvigorate the Christian political imagination itself.

Film, “God Loves Uganda”

Williams, Roger Ross. 2013. God Loves Uganda. 83 min.

Filmaker’s Description:  The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right.

The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

Schäfer, “Countercultural Conservatives”

Schäfer, Axel R.  2011.  Countercultural Conservatives: American Evangelicalism from the Postwar Revival to the New Christian Right.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Publisher’s Description: Today Christian evangelicals appear to form a solid conservative bloc—but it was not always so.  In the mid-twentieth century, far more evangelicals supported such “liberal” causes as peace, social justice, and environmental protection. Only gradually did the conservative evangelical faction win dominance, allying with the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and, eventually, George W. Bush. In Countercultural Conservatives, Axel Schäfer traces the evolution of a diffuse and pluralistic movement into the political force of the New Christian Right. In forging its complex theological and political identity, evangelicalism did not simply reject the ideas of 1960s counterculture, Schäfer argues. For all their strict Biblicism and uncompromising morality, evangelicals absorbed and extended key aspects of the countercultural worldview.  Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.

 

Swartz “Moral Minority”

Swartz, David R.  2012.  Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.  University of Pennsylvania Press.
Publisher’s Description:  In 1973, nearly a decade before the height of the Moral Majority, a group of progressive activists assembled in a Chicago YMCA to strategize about how to move the nation in a more evangelical direction through political action. When they emerged, the Washington Post predicted that the new evangelical left could “shake both political and religious life in America.” The following decades proved the Post both right and wrong—evangelical participation in the political sphere was intensifying, but in the end it was the religious right, not the left, that built a viable movement and mobilized electorally. How did the evangelical right gain a moral monopoly and why were evangelical progressives, who had shown such promise, left behind?

In Moral Minority, the first comprehensive history of the evangelical left, David R. Swartz sets out to answer these questions, charting the rise, decline, and political legacy of this forgotten movement. Though vibrant in the late nineteenth century, progressive evangelicals were in eclipse following religious controversies of the early twentieth century, only to reemerge in the 1960s and 1970s. They stood for antiwar, civil rights, and anticonsumer principles, even as they stressed doctrinal and sexual fidelity. Politically progressive and theologically conservative, the evangelical left was also remarkably diverse, encompassing groups such as Sojourners, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, and the Association for Public Justice. Swartz chronicles the efforts of evangelical progressives who expanded the concept of morality from the personal to the social and showed the way—organizationally and through political activism—to what would become the much larger and more influential evangelical right. By the 1980s, although they had witnessed the election of Jimmy Carter, the nation’s first born-again president, progressive evangelicals found themselves in the political wilderness, riven by identity politics and alienated by a skeptical Democratic Party and a hostile religious right.

In the twenty-first century, evangelicals of nearly all political and denominational persuasions view social engagement as a fundamental responsibility of the faithful. This most dramatic of transformations is an important legacy of the evangelical left.

Nilsson, “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland”

Nilsson, Erik (2012) “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland.” Stockholm studies in social anthropology. Stockholm, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis.

Publisher’s Description: Recent decades have seen substantial changes in the U.S. political landscape. One particularly significant development has been the growing influence of a conservative coalition encompassing evangelical Christianity, interventionist foreign policy and neoliberal reform. This study explores the force and internal dynamics of this political assemblage. Based on fieldwork among conservative voters, volunteers and candidates in a small city in northwestern Ohio during a midterm election year, it probes the energy of conservative politics, its modes of attachment and influence, and the organizational forms through which it circulates. Contemporary conservative politics are shown to be centered on a particular epistemological intuition: that to be able to act, one must believe in something. This intuition implies an actively affirmative stance toward “beliefs” and “values.” The study also addresses methodological and analytical challenges that conservative politics pose for anthropological inquiry. It develops a “conversational” analytical attitude, arguing that in order to understand the lasting influence conservatism one has to take seriously the problems that it is oriented toward.