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.

Vähäkangas, “The Prosperity Gospel in the African Diaspora”

Vähäkangas, Mika.  2015. The Prosperity Gospel in the African Diaspora: Unethical Theology or Gospel in Context? Exchange 44(4): 353-380.

Abstract: The prosperity gospel in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Hosanna Chapel, Helsinki, Finland, builds primarily on African indigenous worldviews rather than serving as a theological justification for capitalism. It is a contextual African interpretation of the gospel in a situation of tension between the expectations of extended families back home, those of the new society in which the immigrants find themselves, and the church. The African experience and heritage come to the fore especially in the strong emphasis placed on interpersonal relations, particularly with family members and God, as an essential part of prosperity. Naïve faith in the bliss of equal opportunities within capitalism is moderated by differentiation between realistic economic expectations and the special blessings that are endowed upon believers. When condemning the prosperity gospel wholesale, there is the risk of misinterpreting non-Western theologies and of morally castigating the weakest for their attempts to survive global capitalism instead of combating its oppressive structures.

Coleman, “Ethics, ethnography, and ‘repugnant’ Christianity”

Coleman, Simon. 2015. Ethics, ethnography, and “repugnant” Christianity. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5 (2): 275–300

Abstract: I explore the troubled relationship between anthropology and conservative Christianity, represented here by Prosperity-oriented Pentecostalism. My interest is not only in the complex boundaries erected between social scientific and religious practice, but also in the ways both involve the construction of ethical orientations to the world that are chronically constituted by the deployment of boundaries that play on movements between the foregrounding and backgrounding of ethical standpoints. One implication of my argument is that we need to consider more carefully the temporality of ethical framing of action. Another is that anthropology must acknowledge the fragmented, even ironic and playful, aspects of Pentecostal practice.

Heuser (ed), “Pastures of Plenty”

Heuser, Andreas (ed).  2015. Pastures of Plenty: Tracing Religio-Scapes of Prosperity Gospel in Africa and Beyond.  Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 

Publisher’s Description: Prosperity Gospel, a controversial strand in global Christianity, relates material wealth to divine blessing. Originating in American Pentecostal milieus, it is most successful in Africa. Authors from four continents present interdisciplinary, multi-sited and comparative analyses of Prosperity Gospel in Africa and beyond. Prosperity theologies adapt to varied political contexts and travel outside Pentecostalism into the wider religious arena. Its components trigger discourses within ecumenical Christianity and are transformed in transnational Christian networks of migrants; they turn up in African shrine religion and African Islam. Pastures of Plenty maps the evolving religio-scapes of Prosperity Gospel.

Contents:

Andreas Heuser: Religio-Scapes of Prosperity Gospel: an Introduction

Rainer Tetzlaff: Political Architecture of Poverty: On Changing Patterns of «African Identity»

Jens Kohrsen: Pentecostal Improvement Strategies: A Comparative Reading on African and South American Pentecostalism

Giovanni Maltese: An Activist-Holiness Kenneth Hagin? A Case Study of Prosperity Theology in the Philippines

Paul Gifford: The Prosperity Theology of David Oyedepo, Founder of Winners’ Chapel

Werner Kahl: «Jesus became poor so that we might become rich.» A Critical Review of the Use of Biblical Reference Texts among Prosperity Preachers in Ghana

Rudolf von Sinner: «Struggling with Africa»: Theology of Prosperity in and from Brazil

Michael Biehl: To Prosper and to Be Blessed: Prosperity, Wealth and «Life in Abundance» in Ecumenical Debate

Andreas Heuser: Battling Spirits of Prosperity: The «Pentecostalized» Interreligious Contest over Money Rituals in Ghana

Seebaway Zakaria: Rhetoric and Praxis of Ghanaian Salafi and Sufi Muslims: Analogies with Prosperity Gospel

Katrin Langewiesche: The Ethics of Wealth and Religious Pluralism in Burkina Faso: How Prosperity Gospel is Influencing the Current Religious Field in Africa

Genevieve Nrenzah: Gender Dimensions of Wealth and Health in Ghanaian Indigenous Religious Thinking: Narratives of Female Clients of the Pemsan Shrine

Abraham Nana Opare Kwakye: Encountering «Prosperity» Gospel in Nineteenth Century Gold Coast: Indigenous Perceptions of Western Missionary Societies

Päivi Hasu: Freemasonry, Occult Economies and Prosperity in Tanzanian Pentecostal Discourse

Tomas Sundnes Drønen: «Now I Dress Well. Now I Work Hard» – Pentecostalism, Prosperity, and Economic Development in Cameroon

David D. Daniels III: Prosperity Gospel of Entrepreneurship in Africa and Black America: A Pragmatist Christian Innovation

Chr. Lucas Zapf: Martin Luther, Wealth and Labor: The Market Economy’s Links to Prosperity Gospel

Yvan Droz/Yonatan N. Gez: A God Trap: Seed Planting, Gift Logic, and the Prosperity Gospel

Martin Lindhardt: Are Blessings for Sale? Ritual Exchange, Witchcraft Allegations, and the De-alienation of Money in Tanzanian Prosperity Ministries

Drea Frochtling: Between Gutter and Gucci, Boss and Botho: A Relocation of «Prosperity Gospel» by Nigerian Pentecostal Christians in Soweto, South Africa

Jeanne Rey: Missing Prosperity: Economies of Blessings in Ghana and the Diaspora – Daniel Frei: «With Both Feet in the Air»: Prosperity Gospel in African Migrant Churches in Switzerland.

van Wyk, “Prosperity and the work of luck in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, South Africa”

Abstract: In 1905, Weber contended that uncertainty about their eternal fate forced Protestants to find secular signs of their destiny in their vocations, their frugality and in their ability to work hard and accumulate capital. More than a century later, the ‘Protestant ethic’ has changed irrevocably. Today, the phenomenal rise of Pentecostal–Charismatic Churches has largely displaced the doctrine of predestination and firmly entrenched the prosperity gospel at the very heart of popular Protestantism. In many African PCCs, the pursuit of ‘blessings’ now trumps older concerns over secular vocations and hard work. Indeed, in churches such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), Christians are urged to demand ‘miracle jobs’ from God and to reject humble vocations and small salaries, regardless of their qualifications, skills or experience. Based on long-term fieldwork with members of the UCKG in South Africa, this paper examines the work of luck (good and bad) in the lives of ordinary believers, how this new ‘work’ attempts to regulate the flow of money and how it participates in older notions of prosperity, fate and good fortune.

Aechtner, “Health, Wealth, and Power”

Aechtner, Thomas.  2015. Health, Wealth, and Power in an African Diaspora Church in Canada.  New York: Palgrave Pivot.

Abstract: This book investigates an African diaspora Christian community in Calgary, Alberta, and explores the ways in which the church’s beliefs and practices impact the lives of its migrant congregation. Importantly, it details the expressed utility of two central ideas: the Prosperity Gospel and Holy Spirit Power. As congregants and church materials persistently maintained, these two aspects of African Pentecostalism supply operative spiritual machinery to overcome the difficulties of living in Canada, as well as the means to thrive in a foreign land. Additionally, the connection between these elements and the democratization of power is explored, and Tom Aechtner provides an analysis of how the church cultivates a form of Christian Pan-Africanism among its multiethnic and multinational populations. The book assesses the roles that African Pentecostalism plays in ameliorating longings for home and promoting the need to spiritually reform Canada. Aechtner also describes how African Pentecostalism relates to the mediation of responses to racism in the nation’s officially multicultural society.

Haynes, “Egalitarianism and hierarchy in Copperbelt religious practice”

Haynes, Naomi. 2015. Egalitarianism and hierarchy in Copperbelt religious practice: on the social work of Pentecostal ritual. Religion DOI:10.1080/0048721X.2014.992106 [early digital release]

Abstract: This article offers an analysis of Pentecostal ritual life focused on a core tension in this religion, namely that between the egalitarianism associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers and the hierarchy that follows from the charismatic authority of church leaders. Drawing on ethnographic material from the Zambian Copperbelt, the author traces out the egalitarian and hierarchical aspects of Pentecostal ritual in order to demonstrate the importance of both of these elements to the social relationships that Pentecostal adherence produces. While the tension between egalitarianism and hierarchy is evident in all Pentecostal groups, on the Copperbelt their interaction produces social results which build on extant cultural models, and which have particular significance in the light of Zambia’s recent economic history. These local resonances in turn allow us to address discontinuity, a central topic in analyses of Pentecostalism, as well as the role of creativity in ritual practice.

van Wyk, “The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa”

van Wyk, Ilana.  2014. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa: A Church of Strangers.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a church of Brazilian origin, has been enormously successful in establishing branches and attracting followers in post-apartheid South Africa. Unlike other Pentecostal Charismatic Churches (PCC), the UCKG insists that relationships with God be devoid of ’emotions’, that socialisation between members be kept to a minimum and that charity and fellowship are ‘useless’ in materialising God’s blessings. Instead, the UCKG urges members to sacrifice large sums of money to God for delivering wealth, health, social harmony and happiness. While outsiders condemn these rituals as empty or manipulative, this book shows that they are locally meaningful, demand sincerity to work, have limits and are informed by local ideas about human bodies, agency and ontological balance. As an ethnography of people rather than of institutions, this book offers fresh insights into the mass PCC movement that has swept across Africa since the early 1990s.

Selka, “Demons and Money”

Selka, Stephen.  2014.  Demons and Money: Possessions in Brazilian Pentecostalism.  In Spirited Things: The Work of “Possession” in Afro-Atlantic Religions, Paul Christopher Johnson, ed.  Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Excerpt: “…this chapter explores interrelated understandings of spiritual and material possession – “possession by” and “possession of” – in the [Universal Church of the Kingdom of God] and similar neo-Pentecostal churches.  Spirit possession is central to Afro-Brazilia religions such as Candombé and Umbanda.  yet many Pentecostal Christians believe that the spirits that possess the practitioners of these religions are demons, and the practices of the [Universal church] in particular focus on liberating people from demonic influence.  This influence is seen as the cause of afflictions ranging from physcial illness to depression and of misfortunes such as divorce or unemployment.

In addition, some Pentecostal churches, especially third-wave or neo-Pentecostal ones, espouse what is often referred to derisively as the “theology of prosperity.”  Also know as the “health and wealth” gospel in North America, its proponents preach that the acquisition of material possessions is possible through faith.  The [Universal church] and similar neo-Pentecostal churches combine their promises of prosperity with an emphasis on deliverance from demons.  At first glance the relationship between these two kinds of possession might seem spurious, but they are closely connected.  In the most explicit formulation of this connection, as we see in the [Universal church], liberation from spiritual possession opens the way for the accumulation of material possessions.  That is, demonic control (possession by) impedes our realization of the prosperity (possession of) that God desires for human beings.”

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.