The increasing numerical strength of Ghanaian pentecostalism and the movement’s involvement in filling in the socioeconomic vacuum in society means that the position of the pastor-prophet cannot be a neglected one. Yet, the extent to which human rights violations are involved in the activities of some of these pastor-prophets has raised some concerns. This article will focus on the often violent treatment of alleged witches during exorcism and explore how these challenge human rights development and implementation in Ghana. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and symbolic violence will be applied to a discussion of human rights and Ghanaian popular deliverance-oriented pentecostal/charismatic ministries. I will argue that pentecostal/charismatic discourse on witchcraft fashions an ideological foundation for symbolic and actual violence against those accused of witchcraft.
Jane Parish“Antiwitchcraft Shrines among the Akan: Possession and the Gathering of Knowledge,”African Studies Review46 no. 3 (December 2003): 17–34. See also T.C. McCaskie “Anti-Witchcraft Cults in Asante: An Essay in the Social History of an African People” History in Africa 8 (1981): 125–154 and Jane Parish “The Dynamics of Witchcraft and Indigenous Shrines among the Akan” Africa 69 no. 3 (1999): 426–448.
Pierre Bourdieu“Legitimation and Structured Interest in Weber’s Sociology of Religion,” in Max Weber Rationality and Modernityed. Sam Whimster and Scott Lash trans. Chris Turner (Oxford: Routledge1987) 216.
Allan Anderson“Varieties, Taxonomies, and Definitions,” in Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methodsed. Allan Anderson et al. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press2010) 13–29.
Elias K. Bongmba“Witchcraft and the Christian Church: Ethical Implications,” in Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africaed. Gerrie ter Haar Religion in Contemporary Africa Series (Trenton NJ and Asmara: African World Press 2007) 120.
Abraham Akrong“A Phenomenology of Witchcraft in Ghana,” in Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africaed. Gerrie ter Haar Religion in Contemporary Africa Series (Trenton NJ and Asmara: African World Press 2007) 53–66.
E.E. Evans-PritchardWitchcraft Oracles and Magic among the Azande (Oxford: Oxford University Press1976); Kofi Asare Opoku West African Traditional Religion (Accra: FEP International Private Ltd 1978) 143.
Brigit Meyer“Impossible Representations: Pentecostalism, Vision and Video Technology in Ghana” (A Working Paper, Department of Anthropology and African Studies, 2003); see also her “ ‘Make a Complete Break with the Past’: Memory and Post-Colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostalist Discourse,”Journal of Religion in Africa28 no. 3 (1998): 316–349.
OmenyoPentecost Outside Pentecostalism236. See also Andrew Walker “The Devil You Think You Know: Demonology and the Charismatic Movement” in Charismatic Renewal: Search for a Theology ed. Tome Smail et al. (London: SPCK 1993) 74.