Chitando and van Klinken (eds), “Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality”

Chitando, Ezra and Adriaan van Klinken.  2016. Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa. New York: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Issues of homosexuality are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. Complementing the companion volume, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa, this book investigates Christian politics and discourses on homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. The contributors present case studies from various African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa and from Cameroon to Uganda, focusing on Pentecostal, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. They critically examine popular Christian theologies that perpetuate homophobia and discrimination, but they also discuss contestations of such discourses and emerging alternative Christian perspectives that contribute to the recognition of sexual diversity, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.

Contents:

Introduction: Christianity and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando

Part I: Pentecostalism as a Public Religion

1. Sexual Bodies, Sacred Vessels: Pentecostal Discourses on Homosexuality in Nigeria Asonzeh Ukah

2. Scandal Makers: Competition in the Religious Market among Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches in Uganda Caroline Valois

3. The Homophobic Trinity: Pentecostal End-time, Prosperity and Healing Gospels as Contributors to Homophobia in Cameroon Frida Lyonga

4. A Kenyan Queer Prophet: Binyavanga Wainaina’s Public Contestation of Pentecostalism and Homophobia Adriaan van Klinken

Part II: Broader Christian Case Studies and Perspectives

5. Christianity, Homosexuality and Public Politics in Zambia Derrick M. Muwina

6. The Anti-homosexual Narrative in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe: Political Diatribe or Religious Conservatism? Lovemore Ndlovu

7. Queer Fragility and Christian Social Ethics: A Political Interpolation of the Catholic Church in Cameroon S.N. Nyeck

8. Is “Being Right” More Important than “Being Together”? Intercultural Bible Reading and Life-giving Dialogue on Homosexuality in the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa Charlene van der Walt

Part III: Christian Subversions and Transformations

9. Enduring and Subverting Homophobia: Religious Experiences of Same-sex Loving People in Zimbabwe Nelson Muparamoto

10. ‘Born this Way’: The Imago Dei in Men Who Love Other Men in Lusaka, Zambia Lilly Phiri

11. Unlikely Allies? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Activists and Church Leaders in Africa Ezra Chitando and Tapiwa P. Mapuranga

12. Reconfiguring a Biblical Story (Genesis 19) in the Context of South African Discussions about Homosexuality Gerald O. West

van Klinken and Chitando (eds), “Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa”

van Klinken, Adriaan, and Ezra Chitando, eds. 2016. Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa. Oxford: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Issues of same-sex relationships and gay and lesbian rights are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. This is the first book with multidisciplinary perspectives on religion and homosexuality in Africa. It presents case studies from across the continent, from Egypt to Zimbabwe and from Senegal to Kenya, and covers religious traditions such as Islam, Christianity and Rastafarianism. The contributors explore the role of religion in the politicisation of homosexuality, investigate local and global mobilisations of power, critically examine dominant religious discourses, and highlight the emergence of counter-discourses. Hence they reveal the crucial yet ambivalent public role of religion in matters of sexuality, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.

Contents:

Introduction: Public Religion, Homophobia and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando

I The Politicisation of Homosexuality

1. ‘For God and For My Country’: Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches and the Framing of a New Political Discourse in Uganda Barbara Bompani

2. Uniting a Divided Nation? Nigerian Muslim and Christian Responses to the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act Danoye Oguntola-Laguda and Adriaan van Klinken

3. Discourses on Homosexuality in Egypt: When Religion and the State Cooperate Serena Tolino

4. ‘We Will Chop Their heads Off’: Homosexuality versus Religio-political Grandstanding in Zimbabwe Molly Manyonganise

5. ‘Un-natural, ‘un-African’ and ‘un-Islamic’: The Three Pronged Onslaught Undermining Homosexual Freedom in Kenya Hassan J. Ndzovu

6. Côte d’Ivoire and the New Homophobia: The Autochthonous Ethic and the Spirit of Neo-Liberalism Joseph Hellweg

II Global and Local Mobilisations

7. An African or Un-African Sexual Identity? Religion, Globalisation and Sexual Politics in sub-Saharan Africa Kapya Kaoma

8. The Extraversion of Homophobia: Global Politics and Sexuality in Uganda Jia Hui Lee

9. Religious Inspiration: Indigenous Mobilisation against LGBTI Rights in Post-conflict Liberia Ashley Currier and Joëlle M. Cruz

10. Islamic Movements against Homosexuality in Senegal: The Fight against AIDS as Catalyst Christophe Broqua

11. One Love or Chanting Down Same-Sex Relations? Queering Zimbabwean Rastafari Perspectives on Homosexuality Fortune Sibanda

12. Narratives of ‘Saints’ and ‘Sinners’ in Uganda: Contemporary (Re)presentations of the 1886 Story of ‘Queer’ Mwanga and Ganda ‘Martyrs’ Prince Karakire Guma III Contestation, Subversion and Resistance

13. Critique and Alternative Imaginations: Homosexuality and Religion in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature Pauline Mateveke

14. Christianity, Human Rights and LGBTI Advocacy: The Case of Dette Resources Foundation in Zambia Adriaan van Klinken

15. ‘I Was On Fire’: The Challenge of Counter-intimacies within Zimbabwean Christianity Nathanael Homewood

16. Critical Realism and LGBTIQ Rights in Africa Richard McCarty and Jay Breneman

Appendix: African LGBTI Manifesto

Pieterse, “Managing belief in a hostile world”

Pieterse, Jim.  2016. Managing belief in a hostile world: experiencing gifts of the Spirit at a small Pentecostal Charismatic Church in Pretoria.  Anthropology Southern Africa.  Early online publication. 

Abstract: This article focuses on the infrequency with which “gifts of the Spirit” are experienced during services at a small Pentecostal church in Pretoria, attended mostly by Afrikaans-speaking men who self-identify as homosexual. It aims to shed some light on the ways in which pastors work to shape churchgoers’ perceptions of the world, their place in it, as well as how experiences of marginalisation and suffering relate to spirits (and their absence) that are understood to mediate between heaven and earth. I argue that difficulties related to the cultivation of faith, on which relationships with the divine are constructed, frustrate direct experiences of spiritual gifts. I also show that certain steps are taken in this church, with varying degrees of success, to try and render the invisible corporeally present. An analysis of sermons is folded into a broader discussion of spiritual self-fashioning and the roles of technologies of the self within the church in an attempt to provide an inclusive, broad-based analysis of “gifts of the Spirit” in a Pentecostal Charismatic Church (PCC) that engages with religious belief on its own terms.

Boyd, “Preaching Prevention: Born-Again Christianity and the Moral Politics of AIDS in Uganda”

Boyd, Lydia. 2015. Preaching prevention: born-again Christianity and the moral politics of AIDS in Uganda. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Publisher’s Description: Preaching Prevention examines the controversial U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative to “abstain and be faithful” as a primary prevention strategy in Africa. This ethnography of the born-again Christians who led the new anti-AIDS push in Uganda provides insight into both what it means for foreign governments to “export” approaches to care and treatment and the ways communities respond to and repurpose such projects. By examining born-again Christians’ support of Uganda’s controversial 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the book’s final chapter explores the enduring tensions surrounding the message of personal accountability heralded by U.S. policy makers.

Preaching Prevention is the first to examine the cultural reception of PEPFAR in Africa. Lydia Boyd asks, What are the consequences when individual responsibility and autonomy are valorized in public health initiatives and those values are at odds with the existing cultural context? Her book investigates the cultures of the U.S. and Ugandan evangelical communities and how the flow of U.S.-directed monies influenced Ugandan discourses about sexuality and personal agency. It is a pioneering examination of a global health policy whose legacies are still unfolding.

van Klinken, “Queer Love in a ‘Christian Nation'”

van Klinken, Adriaan. 2015. Queer Love in a ‘Christian Nation’: Zambian Gay Men Negotiating Sexual and Religious Identities. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Early online publication.

Abstract: On the basis of a study of a group of Zambian men identifying both as gay and as Christian, this article explores the negotiation of sexual and religious identity and critically addresses the “surprise” some scholars have expressed about the general religiosity of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people in Africa. The study demonstrates that participants are not just victims subjected to homophobic religious and political discourses but have agency: resisting discourses of demonization, they humanize themselves by making claims toward the universal category of love—both their own inclination to loving relationships and their share in God’s love. Hence, they claim space for themselves as full citizens of Zambia as a “Christian nation.” This article particularly highlights how some aspects of Pentecostalism appear to contribute to “queer empowerment,” and argues that the religiosity of African LGBTIs critically interrogates Euro-American secular models of LGBTI liberation.

Kaoma, “The paradox and tension of moral claims”

Kaoma, Kapya.  2014. The paradox and tension of moral claims: Evangelical Christianity, the politicization and globalization of sexual politics in sub-Saharan Africa.  Critical Research on Religion 2(3): 227-245.

Abstract: This article explores the paradox between local and global moral values in sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. It shares the thesis that various forces of globalization—the web, media, social, economic, political, and religious––influence and to some extent shape sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. Globalization has made it easy for anti-gay and pro-gay rights groups to connect globally, and share ideas and strategies, but it has also complicated the study of sexual politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. While anti-gay and pro-gay groups accuse each other of being “influenced by foreign interests,” both sides have global groups that provide the ideological framework for the struggle. To some extent, the growing opposition to gay rights should be understood from the perspective of conservative global Christianity on one hand and the globalization on the other. The article concludes that global anti-gay activism invites global pro-gay activism, thereby leading to unintended consequences on sexual minorities.

Hackman, “Desire Work: Producing Heterosexuality in South African Pentecostal Gay Men”

Hackman, Melissa. 2014.Desire Work: Producing Heterosexuality in South African Pentecostal Gay Men. Ethnos DOI:10.1080/00141844.2014.954591 [Pre-publication digital release]

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].

Clements, “Research Note”

Clements, Ben.  2014.  “Research Note: Assessing the Determinants of the Contemporary Social Attitudes of Roman Catholics in Britain: Abortion and Homosexuality.”  Journal of Contemporary Religion 29(3): 491-501.

Abstract: This research note examines the determinants of British Catholics’ social attitudes using a nationally representative survey undertaken in 2010. It examines attitudes towards abortion and homosexuality, issues where the Church has clear moral teachings and has recently intervened in national debates, but where significant proportions of Catholics currently hold dissenting views. Noteworthy findings are the consistent role played by sex, age, and religious commitment in underpinning attitudes towards social issues, while party political support only affects attitudes towards homosexuality. Men, older people, and those who attend religious services more frequently represent the sections of the Catholic community which are particularly likely to hold traditionalist views that accord with official Church teaching.

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.

Samson, “Reading Images of Christ”

Samson, Judith.  2013.  Reading Images of Christ: Masculinity and Homosexuality as Sites of Struggle in Popular Religious Images of Jesus.  Religion and Gender 2(2): 280-304.

Abstract:  The attitude towards homosexuality has become one of the key markers of political identity. In Europe as well as in Northern America it has been used by different groups to promote their views. Especially between fundamentalist Christians and politically as well as religiously liberal people it has become a significant topic of contestation. This article argues that this struggle not only takes place on a textual, but also on a visual discursive level, in which the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is central. An analysis of the representation of Jesus’ masculinity in this image shows that different groups, Polish fundamentalists at a pilgrimage site and liberal American producers of a satiric website, use different versions of the same image to either counter or support public acceptance of homosexuality.