Abstract: This article analyses the historical course of the Evangelical minority in Guinea-Bissau, its transformations, its recent expansion and its current engagement with the public sphere. First, I trace the trajectory of the Guinean Evangelical movement from the 1940s to the present, against the background of the process of decolonization and the post-Independence history of the country. Second, I examine the recent impact of Pentecostal and Charismatic forms of Christianity on local Evangelical churches, following the transnational circulation of believers and missionaries, on the one hand, and the arrival of new international churches, mostly from Brazil and other African countries, on the other. Third, I place the current flowering of Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations in the broader context of a general shift to universal religions throughout the country. Within this framework, I argue, this success can be read as expression of a widespread craving for modernity and mobility, both in rural and urban Guinea-Bissau.
Abstract: This paper analyses the public theology of Pentecostalism in the Chinese context of Hong Kong by discussing Pentecostal Christians’ public involvement. It asks whether Pentecostal Christians actively shape society or are rather shaped by the surrounding culture and absorb and reflect dominant trends within a culture. The essay explains the different aspects of a Pentecostal public theology in the Chinese context by first giving an overview of different historical forms of Pentecostalism in the Hong Kong and Chinese context, each of them expressing a different pattern of public expression and engagement with public issues. The essay then presents some cases of how Pentecostalism engaged in public issues in Hong Kong. A third part identifies motifs of Pentecostalism that are particularly prominent in the Chinese cultural context. The article suggests that these cultural elements shape the engagement with public spheres and push Pentecostals in the Chinese context towards a public theology that is similar to that of conservative Evangelicals.
Abstract: In this essay I review three important volumes for the field of secular studies: Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, Rethinking Secularism, and The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. All three volumes explore the nature of the secular and the status, role, and possible futures of religion in our late modern, globalized world. The volumes present 34 essays by 30 authors representing seven disciplines, and at least six end games. For some, questions of religion-secular entanglement are a historical matter and the task is to map intellectual and ideological trajectories. A second purpose is to empirically document the complexities of particular religion-secular entanglements in particular socio-cultural locations. For others, the remit is theoretical, to discern a conceptual agenda for the ongoing study of religion-secular entanglements. Others are more philosophical, chasing the existential consequences of secularity. A fifth end game is applied in nature: reflections on how political actors might best engage the religious and the secular in acts of governance and international relations. Finally, there are normative voices, those seeking to name what a good, productive religion-secular entanglement ought to look like. Taken together, the volumes mark a thriving, mature field of scholarly inquiry: secular studies has come of age.
Abstract: Applying Michael Warner’s definition of a public as an organized body capable of being addressed in discourse, this essay argues that the mission and associated practices of Taizé pilgrimage are a public formation. The argument draws from visits to the Taizé community in France, to a Taizé youth group in Rotterdam, interviews with pilgrims, writings by community leaders and members, as well as numerous addresses to the European pilgrimages on the part of religious and political leaders. The aims of this argument are to bring pilgrimage research into broader conversations with other strata of cultural theory and to challenge prevailing understandings of the ‘public’ and the relationship between publicness and religion.
Abstract: Religious plurality has implications for religious organisations active within the public realm. Using semi-structured interviews, I examine how Christians and Christian organisations are framing faith discourses so that they resonate with religiously neutral discourses dominant in the public sphere. There are indications of a shift towards the use of profane terms instead of sacred terms to explain aspects of the Christian faith and Christian teachings of love, compassion, and belonging are amplified to counter criticisms that Christianity is a threat to liberal rights and beliefs. This article conceptualises these discourses as two social action frames: the ‘Love Frame’ and the ‘Inclusivity Frame’. I do not refute claims that the social significance of religion is declining but argue that Christians and Christian organisations are working within the confines of secular discourses to disseminate their messages in order to build credibility as egalitarian public service providers.