Christianity and democracy

Authored by: Amy S. Patterson

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the role of Christian institutions in African politics during the postcolonial period. After exploring how Catholic and mainline Protestant churches often worked in coalitions to promote democracy and human rights during the early 1990s, the chapter then examines Pentecostal political engagement in the new millennium. It argues that urbanization, technological innovations, media liberalization, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and newly opened political spaces have fostered this increase in Pentecostal participation by voters and candidates. Pentecostal pastors utilize the language of spiritual warfare in politics, and they speak of candidates as God’s “anointed” ones. Politicians, as well as some mainline churches, have emulated this style. Patronage politics and ethnic voting mean that Pentecostals do not always succeed in their goal of gaining office or shaping policies. Yet with time, the Pentecostal emphasis on self-improvement and consumerism may generate new views of citizenship.

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