Economic and Political Potential of the African Independent Churches

CURA is conducting a research project on the economic and political behavior of adherents of charismatic churches in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these churches are directly or indirectly related to the worldwide Pentecostal movement – one of the most rapidly growing religious phenomena in the contemporary world. CURA has previously undertaken research on Pentecostalism in Latin America and elsewhere, but until now not in Africa. The findings of the earlier research strongly support the notion that, in most places, Pentecostalism promotes values and behavior similar to the classic “Protestant ethic” – that is, a morality that favors social mobility out of poverty and economic development in general, possibly also serving as “a school for democracy.” The question of the present research is whether these findings also apply in Africa. The project is co-sponsered by the Center on Religion and Democracy at the University of Virginia and is managed in the field by the Centre for Development and Enterprise in Johannesburg.