Appraising the Limits of Pentecostal Political Power in Nigeria

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Author: Femi J. Kolapo1
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Many studies of the Pentecostal movement in Africa have identified a modernist liberal tendency as its major characteristic. Its spread is associated with positive social, economic, and political impact in the affected countries. A Pentecostal revolution has been identified in Nigeria as well, with recent literature claiming that it has significant political import that packs modernizing and liberalizing tendencies. This interpretive analysis draws on less-mainstream research to contribute to questioning the political aspect of such conclusions for Nigeria. It argues that the capacity of the country’s Pentecostal movement to effect positive democratizing political change is not clear cut and straightforward, but rather bears major contradictions and paradoxes. Pentecostalism in Nigeria does not achieve a clean break from the traditional past, and some of its modernizing claims are more partial and contradictory than has been recognized. The political impact it has does not translate effectively to tangible significant political power that is able to facilitate the democratic process.

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