Why can’t a pastor be president of a “christian nation”?
Mapping the diverse political theologies of Zambia’s pentecostals.
Naomi Haynes , Social Anthropology , University of Edinburgh.
Why has Nevers Mumba, one of Zambia’s most famous Pentecostal leaders, been so unsuccessful in his various presidential bids? Previous analyses have blamed Mumba’s political woes on a presumed Pentecostal belief that politics is a lesser vocation than the pastorate. In contrast to these interpretations, Haynes argues that Pentecostals in Zambia are very committed to the notion that, at least ideally, their leaders should be pastors, and more specifically that they should be effective mediators of the covenant established when Zambia was declared a “Christian nation.”
The problem with Nevers Mumba is therefore not that pastors aren’t supposed to be politicians, but rather that he has failed to convince believers that he is a good religious intermediary.
This open lecture will try to open up new horizons in the study of Pentecostal politics, suggesting that populism in countries with high Pentecostal populations is increasingly defined by the capacity for mediation. By focusing on the political models employed by Nevers Mumba on the one hand, and Pentecostal voters on the other, the lecture will also respond to calls for increased attention to Pentecostalism’s internal diversity.