Rijk van Dijk
Among the many immigrant groups that have settled in the Netherlands, the recently arrived migrants from Ghana have been perceived by the Dutch state as especially problematic. Explicit measures have been taken to investigate marriages of Ghanaians, as these appeared to be an avenue by which many acquired access to the Dutch welfare state. While the Dutch government tightened its immigration policies, many Ghanaian Pentecostal churches were emerging in the Ghanaian immigrant communities. An important function of these churches is to officiate over marriages; marriages that are perceived as lawful and righteous in the eyes of the migrant community but nonetheless do not have any legal basis as far as the Dutch state is concerned. This contribution explores why the Ghanaian community attributes great moral significance to these marriages that are taking place within their Pentecostal churches. It investigates the changing meaning of the functions of Pentecostal churches in Ghana and in the Netherlands by distinguishing civil morality from civic responsibility. It seeks to explore how, in both contexts, legitimacy is created as well as contested in the face of prevailing state-civil society relations. Through this exploration, it will become clear why, in both situations, Pentecostalism is unlikely to develop into a civic religion in the full sense of the term.