Haynes, “Why can’t a pastor be president of a ‘Christian Nation’?”

Haynes, Naomi. 2018. Why can’t a pastor be president of a “Christian Nation”? Pentecostal Politics as Religious Mediation. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 41(1): 60-74.

Why has Nevers Mumba, one of Zambia’s most famous Pentecostal leaders, been so unsuccessful in his two presidential bids? Previous analyses have blamed Mumba’s political woes on a presumed Pentecostal belief that politics is a lesser vocation than the pastorate. In contrast to these interpretations, I argue that Pentecostals in Zambia are very committed to the notion that, at least ideally, their leaders should be pastors, and more specifically that they should be effective mediators of the divine covenant established when Zambia was declared a “Christian nation.” The problem with Mumba is, therefore, not that pastors are not supposed to be politicians, but rather that he has failed to convince believers that he is a good mediator. This article opens up new horizons in the study of Pentecostal politics, suggesting that populism in countries with high Pentecostal populations is increasingly defined by the capacity for religious mediation.

 

Smiderle and Mesquita, “Political Conflict and Spiritual Battle”

Smiderle, Carlos Gustavo Sarmet Moreira and Wania Amelia Belchior Mesquita. 2016. Political Conflict and Spiritual Battle: Intersections between Religion and Politics among Brazilian Pentecostals. Latin American Perspectives 43(3): 85-103.

Abstract: A new interpretation of Evangelical actors’ increasing participation in Brazilian political and electoral contests is that elements of Pentecostalism predispose a believer to see the world as the site of an eternal struggle between God and Satan. The belief in demons that have territorial jurisdictions, known as territorial spirits, is one aspect of this theology. The cognitive universe of this belief induces the Evangelical voter to make electoral decisions on the basis of religious premises. It teaches the voter to conceive, without much reflection, the spiritual battle and the electoral game as territorial disputes.

Deacon, “Driving the Devil Out”

Deacon, Gregory.  2015. Driving the Devil Out: Kenya’s Born-Again Election.  Journal of Religion in Africa 45(2): 200-220.

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.

Deacon, “Kenya: A Nation Born Again”

Deacon, Gregory.  2015.  Kenya: A Nation Born Again.  PentecoStudies 14(2): 219-240.

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.

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.