Abstract: Building upon debates about the politics of nationalism and sexuality in post-colonial Africa, this article highlights the role of religion in shaping nationalist ideologies that seek to regulate homosexuality. It specifically focuses on Pentecostal Christianity in Zambia, where the constitutional declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation has given rise to a form of ‘Pentecostal nationalism’ in which homosexuality is considered to be a threat to the purity of the nation and is associated with the Devil. The article offers an analysis of recent Zambian public debates about homosexuality, focusing on the ways in which the ‘Christian nation’ argument is deployed, primarily in a discourse of anti-homonationalism, but also by a few recent dissident voices. The latter prevent Zambia, and Christianity, from accruing a monolithic depiction as homophobic. Showing that the Zambian case presents a mobilisation against homosexuality that is profoundly shaped by the local configuration in which Christianity defines national identity – and in which Pentecostal-Christian moral concerns and theo-political imaginations shape public debates and politics – the article nuances arguments that explain African controversies regarding homosexuality in terms of exported American culture wars, proposing an alternative reading of these controversies as emerging from conflicting visions of modernity in Africa.
Núñez, Lorena. 2015. Faith Healing, Migration and Gendered Conversions in Pentecostal Churches in Johannesburg. In, Healing and Change in the City of Gold: Case Studies of Coping and Support in Johannesburg. Ingrid Palmary, Brandon Hamber, and Lorena Núñez, eds. London: Springer. Pp. 149-168.
Excerpt: The study looks at the experiences of migrant congregants and pastors in Turffontein, south of Johannesburg. The area has undergone a process of transformation along with successive migratory flows. Originally populated by Afrikaans, Jewish, and Portuguese communities, in the post-apartheid period the area has began to receive immigrants from various African countries. Along with these new migrant groups migrant-initiated churches proliferated, with the most numerous being Nigerian and Congolese Pentecostal churches. Twenty three in-depth interviews were conducted with both migrant congregants and pastors in these two churches (one Nigerian and one Congolese). In addition, participatory observation was conducted in order to better understand the processes of indoctrination and initiation that migrants – as well as local participants – undergo in order to be delivered and ultimately healed. This chapter examines the responses offered by these two churches to their migrant congregants in their search for healing. It specifically considers the relationship between the healing work conducted by the church and changes or continuities in gender notions and practices among migrant congregations.
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.
Burchardt, Marian. 2014. AIDS Activism in the Age of ARV Treatment in South Africa: Christianity, Resource Mobilisation and the Meanings of Engagement. Journal of Southern African Studies 40(1): 59-74.
Abstract: This article explores the dynamics of Christian AIDS activism in South Africa. Using social movement theory’s approaches to resource mobilisation, I ask how the availability of different kinds of resources affects organisation and outcomes. Focusing on several Christian activist groups in Cape Town, and on the cultural logics whereby activist networks are extended into rural areas, I argue that resource mobilisation takes on different configurations and rationalities when conjugated with the prevailing system of relationships of patronage and dependency between activist groups and donors. By illustrating the way in which AIDS activism has spilled over into the religious domain in South Africa, I also highlight how, in the process, this activism and the projects it initiated have reshaped Christianity as a public religion.
Abstract: The missionary encounter between the London Missionary Society and Sotho-Tswana communities of southern Africa has been explored by Jean and John Comaroff as work that took place at the level of both signs and practices. In this article, I consider what a Peircean semeiotic might offer to this narrative. I argue that it provides ways to disrupt the sometimes binary relationship of signs and practices while also providing opportunities for productive interdisciplinary conversations about the affective, material, and processual nature of changes in belief and practice.
Abstract: Analysing the public character of Brazilian Pentecostal counselling sessions in urban Mozambique, this paper aims to examine the configurations of exposure through which counselling acquires and produces sociocultural forms of intimacy. During ‘therapy of love’ sessions held by the Brazilian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, strict bodily acts need to be performed publicly to authorise love. Drawing on the notion of religious habitus, the paper focuses on how the performativity of Brazilian Pentecostal counselling practices responds to and shapes a public culture of love and intimacy among upwardly mobile women in urban Mozambique, and how the performative scripts converts carry out during therapy result in ambiguous relationships.
Publisher’s Description: In African Theology as Liberating Wisdom; Celebrating Life and Harmony in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana, Mari-Anna Pöntinen analyses contextual interpretations of the Christian faith in this particular church. These interpretations are based on the special wisdom tradition which embraces monistic ontology, communal ethics in botho, and the indigenous belief in God as the Source of Life, and the Root of everything that exists. The constructing theological principle in the ELCB is the downward-orientated and descending God in Christ which interprets the ‘Lutheran spirit’ in a liberating and empowering sense. It deals with the cultural mythos which brings Christ down into people’s existence, unlike Western connotations which are considered to hinder seeing Christ and to prevent existential self-awareness.
Publisher’s Description: Studies of gender in African Christianity have usually focused on women. This book draws attention to men and constructions of masculinity, particularly important in light of the HIV epidemic which has given rise to a critical investigation of dominant forms of masculinity. These are often associated with the spread of HIV, gender-based violence and oppression of women. Against this background Christian theologians and local churches in Africa seek to change men and transform masculinities.
van de Kamp, Linda. 2012. Love Therapy: A Brazilian Pentecostal (Dis)connection in Maputo. In, The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa, Rijk van Dijk and Mirjam de Brujin, eds. p. 203-226. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Excerpt: “This chapter examines this public training of the body in ways of love, such as embracing and kissing, in relation to the changing practices of love an dnew gender roles in Maputo. I examine Brazilian Pentecostal counseling sessions on love and sexuality as a set of ‘connecting techniques’ where the terapia do amor serves as a key example. In line with the arguments running through this current volume, connecting techniques are specific forms of linking that people consider to open up new life options, such as the invention of new bodily modes and relationships. In the case of the therapy, the connecting techniques have two important meanings. First, the value of the Brazilian Pentecostal connections for Mozambican urban women is intrinsically related to its transnational aspects. The transnational Pentecostal bridge allows for disconnecting from existing forms of relating and learning about alternative ways of being and relating. Second, it appears that the embodiment of specific constructs, tools, or techniques (Foucault 1988) produces love and successful relations. To connect to alternative forms of love and marriage and to disconnect from older ones, the body plays a central role in realizing connections and effectuating sociocultural change. The last part of this chapter describes how the new modes of bridging and bonding through the embodiment of Brazilian Pentecostal techniques are also leading to insecure feelings and relationships” (p. 204).
Abstract: This article discusses how Pentecostal churches in Botswana and Zimbabwe have appropriated media technologies in their worship. It identifies which media technologies are used by the churches and considers how they are used, the theological justifications for this appropriation, and the effects of this appropriation on the Christian faith. Media technologies discussed include radio, television, the Internet, e-mail, mobile phones, and various print media. The article concludes that Pentecostal churches have fully embraced media technology, in contrast to churches like the African Independent Churches that consider such technologies as trivializing Christianity. The article argues that media technologies have allowed Pentecostal churches in Botswana and Zimbabwe to spread the gospel faster and wider. Possible negative effects of media technology appropriation, such as the commodification of the Christian religion, are also discussed.