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.
Abstract: This article examines the political dimensions of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, beginning with the historical development of Pentecostal political engagement since independence in 1960. A common observation is that much of global Pentecostalism is apolitical, but an assessment of Nigerian Pentecostalism shows a diversity of political orientations in response to inter-religious competition, as well as changing socio-economic contexts and theological orientations. Herein, I focus on the “third democratic revolution” involving the struggle for sustainable democracy (the first two being the anti-colonial struggle that brought independence and the 1980s-1990s challenge to one-party and military rule). As well, I examine different political strategies employed by Nigerian Pentecostals and assess their impact on direct political behavior, civil society practices and political culture.
Abstract: In Pentecostal political theology in Africa, there has been a movement from Pentecostal disjunction from state and society towards conjunction on governance levels. This eventually led to disillusionment with Pentecostal policymaking, both within African Pentecostal milieus and public discourses. The entrance of Pentecostal actors onto the political stage in African countries dates back to the transformative years from 1989 to 1993, in which democratic movements all over the continent were challenging autocratic presidential regimes. This era has been termed in political science the “second democratization” after the immediate postcolonial era of nation building in the 1960s. Almost invisible before, Pentecostal political impact was growing enormously and transformed into varied efforts to ‘pentecostalize’ governance since the turn of the millennium. In view of selected West African political cultures and Kenya discussed in this special issue of Nova Religio, a dialectics in Pentecostal visions of politics becomes obvious: The diversity of political strategies testifies to African Pentecostal potency in public discourses, but once entangled in actual policymaking, Pentecostal praxis discredits self-images of superiority in politics.
Abstract: Gay men in Cape Town, South Africa joined a Pentecostal ministry in an attempt to produce what they understood as ‘natural’ heterosexual attraction. In this article, I explore how these gay men try to form new selves through what I call ‘desire work’, or physical and emotional micropractices and discipline. Desire is not ‘natural’, but it is produced through a multitude of engagements with cultural norms, public life, political economies, and social forces. New selves are built through concerted bodily changes and comportment [Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press], and although gay Pentecostal men shared this process, their success was limited. I understand desire work as a response to a larger context in which many Pentecostals are disaffected with the post-apartheid government and withdraw from politics as a result. Their fears of the uncertainties of democracy pushed them to engage in optimistic fantasies of heterosexual lives, which were not often realised [Berlant, Lauren Gail. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press].
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
This article demonstrates historically and statistically that conversionary Protestants (CPs) heavily influenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world. It argues that CPs were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely. Statistically, the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries explains about half the variation in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania and removes the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy. The association between Protestant missions and democracy is consistent in different continents and subsamples, and it is robust to more than 50 controls and to instrumental variable analyses.
Abstract: Since the reestablishment of democracy in Chile, Evangelicals have been becoming more prominent in society. Their communities foster civic skills among their members, and this fact, taken together with the gradual raising of their economic and educational level, could transform the Evangelicals into a ‘cultural citizenship’. Nevertheless, my study project shows that in spite of the extensive community work that Evangelical churches are developing, and their respect for democracy, they continue to be depoliticised and distanced from the main national problems. The Evangelical community is concerned about its rights, but it tends to act in defence of its corporate interests rather than in the national perspective, which decreases its involvement in the developing democracy.
Smilde, David and Coraly Pagan. 2011. Christianity and Politics in Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Catholics, Evangelicals and Political Polarization. In Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics, and Culture Under Chavez. Edited by, David Smilde and Daniel Hellinger. pp. 317-341. Durham: Duke University Press.