Anglicans and Catholics established the initial footholds in Africa, and have spread rapidly in places. But they are now under threat of competition from Pentecostalism.
Tim Cocks reports:
His white suit picked out by floodlights, the U.S.-based preacher [tele-evangelist Benny Hinn] promised a “miracle crusade” to heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk. “In Jesus’ name, lift your hands and sing,” he cried, almost drowned out by cheering.
Pentecostal religion is mushrooming in Africa.
Promising prosperity, miracle cures and life-changing spiritual experiences, the “born again” faiths that are the staple of America’s multi-millionaire televangelists are fast taking over the world’s poorest continent.
The U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says Pentecostalism is growing globally, with a quarter of the world’s 2 billion Christians thought to be members of these faiths that emphasize speaking in tongues, divine healing, prophesy and a strongly literal interpretation of Bible stories.
In Africa all churches are booming, but Pentecostalism is overtaking traditional Catholic and Anglican faiths brought by European colonizers over a century ago.
Christians say the ecstatic experiences offered by Pentecostals are more exciting than the subdued worship — complete with silent congregations and soporific organ music — that the continent’s first missionaries brought here.
“Africans want things done powerfully,” said Rev. Nathan Samwini of the Christian Council of Ghana. “You meet white evangelicals from America, they behave like Africans. They are vibrant, everything is done with vigor.”
Moses Malay heads a Ugandan organization helping what he calls victims of “pulpit fraud” after quitting a church whose pastor claimed divine powers.
“I saw people robbed and I participated. How do they do it? Simple. They instill hope, they nurture it, they reap.”
Faith healers insist there is no fraud.
Read it all here in the Washington Post.