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Annual Conference 2021 - Political Pentecostalism
The conference is part of the eponymous research project "Political Pentecostalism". The focus is not only on a religious coloring of political discourses, but also on a lasting change in the self-image and self-understanding of these actors.
The conference is part of the same-titled research project “Politischer Pentekostalismus”, which is currently being carried out at the Institute for World Church and Mission. Particular attention will be paid to the increasing and newly perceivable worldwide engagement of Pentecostal church actors in the field of politics and the public sphere. The focus is not only on a religious coloring of political discourses, but also on a sustainable change in the self-image and self-understanding of these actors.
Against this backdrop, a new tension between religion and politics is emerging that challenges academia, churches, politics, and society as a whole. At the conference, experts from various disciplines will participate in order to shed light on this phenomenon in the most comprehensive and perspective-rich way possible. The following areas will be represented:

    • Sociology
    • Political science
    • Religious studies
    • Pentecostalism research
    • Theology
    • Pastoral

The observation that current political discourse is becoming increasingly religiously colored, worldwide, is both revealing and sobering. This tendency is usually attributed to a new political awareness and engagement of evangelical as well as Pentecostal actors. Accordingly, such political, religiously charged, post-secular discourses constitute the object of research of this project, which sets out to investigate two things in particular. On the one hand, the question arises as to how the field of tension between religion and politics is currently being formed, especially with regard to the publicly perceptible confrontations of these new actors with their secular or non-Christian-minded interlocutors. On the other hand, it is necessary to investigate which self-image and which (theological) worldview are conveyed or perceived by their public appearance or sociopolitical activity in the public sphere, in order to be able to grasp the phenomenon at all and appropriately.


By means of a literature study conducted by experts in their respective contexts, the project aims in a first phase to probe the current situation of the phenomenon in terms of the sociology of religion and political science, in order to be able to initiate a systematic elaboration in a second phase on the basis of this foundation. This consists mainly of examining the phenomenon for the viability of its figures/statistics, the appropriateness of the nomenclature used for it, the possibility of global comparability, etc., on the one hand, and the theological justifications and motives underlying this new commitment, on the other.


Against this background, the IWM’s annual conference, held virtually from July 28-30, was devoted to an examination of Pentecostal development in Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines, where these phenomena are particularly pronounced and where a number of similarities can be observed.


The meeting brought together about 300 participants from 40 countries and 10 different time zones, coming from different cultural and regional contexts. Simultaneous interpretation was provided in German, English and Spanish.


Speakers included Prof. Dr. Amos Yong, Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuser, Prof. Dr. Brenda Carranza, Charles Bertille, Sr. Chung Myung Son (Cecilia), Prof. Dr. Ebenezer Obadare, Prof. Dr. Giovanni Maltese, Prof. Dr Gunda Werner, Prof. Dr. José Luis Pérez Guadalupe, Rev. Fr. Dr. Lawrence Nchekwube Nwankwo, Archbishop Dr. Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, OFM and Prof. Dr. Ruth Marshall.


In addition to keynote speeches on various facets of Political Pentecostalism, various forum events were offered, allowing for interaction between the speakers and the participants.

Forum 1: Prof. Giovanni Maltese


There is a broad research consensus that right-wing authoritarian politicians such as Rodrigo Duterte, Donald Trump, or Jair Bolsonaro owe their success to Pentecostal and Evangelical circles of support. A central role is played by practices that are summarized under the catchword spiritual warfare and are interpreted as an expression of an affinity between Pentecostalism and right-wing authoritarianism. Based on ethnographic material collected in the Philippines, I will discuss the thesis of an inherent connection between spiritual warfare and anti-democratic, right-wing authoritarianism. This will also address the extent to which research on religion and politics is dominated by a North Atlantic-Eurocentric skew that promotes anti-democratic tendencies in Pentecostalism in the Global South.


Forum 2: Prof. José Luis Pérez Guadalupe


All regional statistics show a steady decline of Catholicism in Latin America over the last fifty years and, at the same time, a growth of the evangelical movement almost in the same proportion as the Catholic decline. If this trend continues, there will be a Pentecostal-Evangelical majority in Central American countries, for example, in the next decade, while Catholicism will become the first religious minority after holding the religious monopoly for five centuries. Parallel to the numerical growth, Latin American evangelicals began to enter party politics in the 1980s. Today, with a new neo-Pentecostal emphasis, they have not only outgrown the apoliticism that characterized them, but have formed political movements and parties that seek to reach all levels of power. To this end, they have often joined forces with a part of Latin American Catholicism, creating de facto an unprecedented “political ecumenism.” The analysis of this new social, religious, and political phenomenon also required an effort to renew classical sociological and political categories, since they had become obsolete in practice. It also required a greater hermeneutical effort to understand new theological concepts that (neo)Pentecostals are currently using to justify their political engagement as a mandate from God and an extension of their ecclesial mission.


Forum 3: Prof Brenda Carranza



Using the concept of public religion, this paper looks at three aspects of the Pentecostalism phenomenon in Latin America and Brazil. The first addresses the processes of socio-demographic changes in the Christian landscape, in which Pentecostal growth, as well as the theology of domination, prosperity, and spiritual warfare, play a crucial role in entering the scenario of political representation, electoral competition, and the occupation of different spheres of power. The second takes a look at how democratic processes enable the participation of demographic and indenitarian minorities, including Pentecostal Christian:ing, in the legislative spheres of the state. However, even as these religious actors have benefited from this opportunity to sediment their public visibility, they engage in a campaign of intolerance toward religious and sexual minorities. The third dimension addresses the reactive politicization around “gender ideology” through which Pentecostal sectors seek to implement a power project aimed at establishing a Christian nation, a political ecumenism, and an alignment with the neoliberal and conservative agenda, thereby strengthening the new Christian right on the continent.


Forum 4: Prof. Jayeel Cornelio



This presentation charts the scholarly landscape of Pentecostal social and political engagement in Asia. Drawing from the extensive literature on Pentecostalism in the various regions of Asia, this paper will characterize these forms of engagement. Three forms of social and political engagement will be focused on: civic engagement, public morality, and political participation. After explaining these forms of engagement, the presentation turns to conceptualizing the social and political work of Pentecostalism in Asia. In contrast to previous work on the emergence of progressive Pentecostalism in the Global South, the term “engaged Pentecostalism” is a more appropriate term for the Asian experience. The term refers to the movement within Pentecostal and charismatic groups driven by a desire to be relevant and to correct what they see as social and political ills in order to participate in contemporary affairs.


Forum 5: Prof. Ebenezer Obadare



This forum provides an overview of Pentecostalism and politics in Nigeria, which should be situated in the larger context of the dynamic interaction of faith and politics in that country. Considering that the emergence of Pentecostalism in Nigeria coincided with the birth of the Nigerian Fourth Republic (1999- ) and the democratic process unfolded under the auspices of Pentecostalism, the core thesis is that it is impossible to understand one without attention to the other. Accordingly, the paper offers a panorama of the issues and personalities involved in the intertwining of Nigerian Pentecostalism and Nigerian politics in the last two decades. In doing so, it attempts to shed light on, among other things, the rise of Pentecostalism as a religious and socio-cultural force, its influence on decision-making processes and political performance, and the context and impact of its competition with competing Islamic forces. The paper concludes with speculation on the country’s political prospects as Pentecostalism continues to maintain a firm grip on the social imaginary.


Forum 6: Prof. Andreas Heuser



The recent break with the classical interpretation of the Pentecostal apolitical stance has attracted attention especially in the social and political sciences. Particularly with regard to Pentecostalism in sub-Saharan Africa, a considerable body of literature attests to a Pentecostal conception of society that suggests a certain Pentecostal agency in political spheres. Yet there is an acute silence about the theological grammar that gives structure to Pentecostal political action. The thesis presented here decodes the Pentecostal script of what has come to be called Dominion Theology, which envisions a novel aspiration for political power. It is a unifying concept of society that incorporates the fundamental Pentecostal trait of expressing faith-based action. Their theoretical blueprint “wanders” through global Pentecostalism and includes strategies of elite networking and co-optation. While claiming a fairly coherent format, the rule-theological impulse leaves an impression of ambiguity in political practice, as evidenced by the recent political public sphere in Ghana.


Forum 7: Prof. Gunda Werner



In ever new images the end of the world is evoked. While in the European context this end is identified with the end of the Christian Occident and other unspecified catastrophic events, the more the Christian-spiritual community moves into the evangelical-pentecostal realm, the more these images are expressed. However, the Catholic Church also knows movements that move in the apocalyptic symbolic area.What do the images, the language of apocalyptic mean? What makes them attractive? How much are they interwoven with Christian spirituality? What gap do they draw attention to and what attitude do they challenge? This is what the panel will be about: First, a brief definition: what is apocalyptic; second, a search for traces of apocalyptic traditions, especially in the churches of the Refomation; third, the search for an attitude that positively challenges apocalyptic – in two ways.


Dr. Leandro Bedin Fontana

Our global literature study “Political Pentecostalism” is now available for download free of charge.


Fontana, Leandro L. B., and Markus Luber, eds. Political Pentecostalism: Four Synoptic Surveys from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Weltkirche und Mission 17. Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 2021.


The conference proceedings are available from the same publisher (in German only):


Leandro L.B. Fontana, Markus Luber (Hg.), Politischer Pentekostalismus: Transformation des globalen Christentums im Spiegel theologischer Motive und pluraler Normativität,  Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 2023.


Link to Publisher’s website

Prof. Dr. Amos Yong

Dean, Prof. of Theology and Mission
Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California


Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuser

Theologian and political scientist
Dean of the Faculty of Theology
University of Basel


Prof. Dr. Brenda Carranza

Social Scientist
State University of Campinas


Charles Bertille

Executive Secretary Catholic Bishops‘ Conference
of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei (CBCMSB) und
Executive Secretary of Caritas Malaysia


Sr. Chung-myung Son (Cecilia)

Parish Sister at the Catholic International Paris of Seoul
Member of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue
(Catholic Bishops’ Conference of South Korea)
South Korea


Prof. Dr. Ebenezer Obadare

Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas
Fellow des Research Institute for Theology and Religion an der University of South Africa


Prof. Dr. Giovanni Maltese

Junior Professor Religious Studies and Global Christianity at the University of Hamburg
Director of the Institute for Missiology, Ecumenism and Religious Studies (IMÖR)


Prof. Dr. Gunda Werner

Theologian; Professor of Dogmatics at the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz


Prof. Dr. Jayeel S. Cornelio

Associate Professor and Director of the Development Studies Program
Ateneo de Manila University


Prof. Dr. José Luis Pérez Guadalupe

Sociologist and Theologian
Research Professor an der Universidad del Pacífico’s Graduate School
Vice President of the Institut of Christian Social Studies (IESC)


Rev. Fr. Dr. Lawrence Nchekwube Nwankwo

Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia
Diocesan Chancellor/Secretary of the Diocese
Lecturer at the Department of Religion & Human Relations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa


Archbishop Dr. Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, OFM

Metropolit Archbishop of Manaus


Prof. Dr. Ruth Marshall

Associate Professor of Political Science and Religious Studies
at the University of Toronto

Dr. Leandro Bedin Fontana


Offenbacher Landstraße 224
60599 Frankfurt am Main


Raum: L  (Lindenbau)


Telefon: +49 69 6061-707