Abstract: The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), North America, constitutes a graphic model of a transnational African Initiated Christian Church organization. The Church was founded in Nigeria in 1952. Though it started out as an apocalyptic movement, in classical parishes’ format, it has become an upwardly mobile functional Christian denomination in model parishes’ format. It is in this structure that the church has become transnational, having been transplanted to different parts of the world, including North America, where it now has well over 400 parishes.
Abstract: Drawing on interviews with creators of Christian hip hop music in South Africa, this article demonstrates that this genre of popular music and youth culture is utilised as a form of pedagogy to transmit religious beliefs and values to contemporary youth. The pedagogical aspects of hip hop have been recognised in research on the topic, but the religious pedagogical uses of hip hop have been under-analysed within the social sciences. After outlining the global development of hip hop as a pedagogical practice, this article will demonstrate that, under the influence of North American Evangelicalism, South African Christian hip hop attempts to promote Evangelical orthodoxy and orthopraxy in response to the secular and religious practices of South African youth.
“On each trip, certain interpenetrations are articulated and shaped by group leaders, Many, however, are not. At the back of the bus, pilgrims make the experience meaningful in ways that guides and tour operators may not expect and cannot predict. Pilgrims keep these deeply felt connections to themselves, and they color each trip in very personal ways.” (Kaell 2014: 80)
Although I have been working with American Holy Land pilgrims for over three decades, both as anthropologist and as tour guide, Hillary Kaell’s book surprised me. The perspective she has chosen – accompanying and talking with women before, during and after the voyage – places the voyage within a longue durée that was invisible to me as tour guide, and only partially visible as researcher. Rather than privilege the narratives spoken into bus microphones by guides and pastors/priests, Kaell places her microphone with the woman in the back, who rarely expresses her desires or thoughts in public on the tour. This perspective is a useful corrective to scholars who focus on ecclesiastical guidelines, sermons, recited public prayers, guides’ explanations, and the goals made explicit by the pilgrim/tour industry or the pastors who organize and lead groups. Kaell’s concentration on the lived experience of 50-75 year-old Catholic and evangelical American women traveling to the Holy Land demonstrates how the geographical, political or even biblical context of the sites and routes of the Holy Land may serve as the background for an intensely personal trajectory. This personal path is a continuation of the home lives of ‘middle-old’ aged women, who make up a major portion of Holy Land pilgrims. Without ignoring denominational distinctions, Kaell reminds us that the pilgrimage experience is rooted in profoundly American, (mainly) middle-class values that cut across traditional religious lines. Continue reading →
Abstract: This article addresses religious responses to disaster by examining how one network of conservative evangelical Christians reacted to the Haiti earthquake and the humanitarian relief that followed. The charismatic Christian New Apostolic Reformation (or Spiritual Mapping movement) is a transnational network that created the conditions for post-earthquake, internally displaced Haitians to arrive at two positions that might seem contradictory. On one hand, Pentecostal Haitian refugees used the movement’s conservative, right-wing theology to develop a punitive theodicy of the quake as God’s punishment of a sinful nation. On the other hand, rather than resign themselves to victimhood and passivity, their strict moralism allowed these evangelical refugees to formulate an uncompromising critique of the Haitian government, the United Nations peacekeeping mission, and foreign humanitarian relief. They rejected material humanitarian aid when possible and developed a stance of Christian self-sufficiency, anti-foreign-aid, and anti-dependency. They accepted visits only from American missionaries with “spiritual,” and not material, missions, and they launched their own missions to parts of Haiti unaffected by the quake.
Abstract: This collection of papers is the result of research presented at the 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Atlanta, Georgia, sponsored by the Comparative Studies of Religion section. The set of papers resulting from the panel, Politics of Faith in Asia: Local and Global Perspectives of Christianity in Asia, presents findings from a diverse array of cultural areas and historical contexts across the Asian continent. All of these are connected by a focus on the intersection of Christianity and the political organisation in Asian societies. Although each paper focuses primarily on the continued encounter of Protestant, Evangelical Christianity and local religions, the definition and scope of the political milieu differ considerably. Moving from local communities in a small Indian town, through the growing global connections of religious groups in the Philippines, to the global and national politics of South Korea, the set addresses a multitude of political levels, be they governmental or the processes of everyday interactions.
Abstract: This brief afterword comments on the papers from this special issue, arguing that each explores current complexities of interactions between national and transnational orientations, but also helps to nuance understandings of the global through the invocation of history. As a result, we not only observe the interplay between colonial and post-colonial regimes of religion and politics, but also gain an appreciation of transnational religious impulses that were in operation well before the last few decades of explicitly ‘global consciousness’. Christianisation has a significant history in the regions covered, but it cannot be understood through crude, unilinear models of development or progress.
Abstract: The paper analyses transnational flows of Pentecostalism between Australia and Brazil. It analyses the establishment of CNA, a Brazilian church that caters for the increasing number of Brazilian students in Sydney. It also investigates the ways in which Hillsong, an Australian Pentecostal megachurch, has influenced CNA and has been alluring young Pentecostal Brazilians to Australia. Scholars have paid little attention to how religious institutions in the host country may influence rituals and facilitate the establishment of the new church. I argue that churches created by migrants are not established in a deterritorialized diasporic vacuum. Reterritorialization engenders hybridity. Following an admiration for Australian churches due to Australia being part of the English-speaking developed world, CNA is a hybrid of a conservative Brazilian Baptist church and the very informal Hillsong church. I contend that it is precisely this hybridity that makes young Brazilians adhere to it since the church works as an effective bridge between Brazilian and Australian cultures. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates the polycentric nature of Pentecostalism, as Australia is becoming a centre for the dissemination of Hillsong-style Pentecostalism in Brazil.
Abstract: In today’s post-industrial city, migrants and ethnic minorities are forming, through their religious practices, particular spaces of alterity, often at the ‘margin’ of the urban experience—for instance, in converting anonymous warehouses into places of worship. This paper examines diverse facets of the religious spatiality of Afro-Christian diasporic churches—from local emplacement to the more visible public parade of faith in the urban landscape. One of the aims is to explore to what extent particular spatial configurations and locations constitute ‘objective expression’ of social status and symbolic positionalities in the post-migration secular environment of the ‘host societies’. Without denying the impact of urban marginality, the paper shows how religious groups such as African Pentecostal and Prophetic churches are also engaged, in their own terms, in a transformative project of spatial appropriation, regeneration and re-enchantment of the urban landscape. The case study of the Congolese Kimbanguist Church in London and Atlanta also demonstrates the need to examine the articulation of local, transnational and global practices and imaginaries to understand how religious and ethnic identities are renegotiated in newly ‘localised’ diasporic settings.
Abstract: This article examines the changing relationship between religion, secularism, national politics, and identity formation among Lebanese Christians in Senegal. Notre Dame du Liban, the first Lebanese religious institution in West Africa, draws on its Lebanese “national” character to accommodate Lebanese Maronite Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians in Dakar, remaining an icon of “Lebanese” religion, yet departing from religious sectarianism in Lebanon. As such, transnational religion can vary from national religion, gaining new resonances and reinforcing a wider “secular” ethno-national identity.