“Selling God in Uganda” : a critical cultural study of persuasion in mediatized neo-Pentecostalism




Jenga, Fred

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This Africa-focused study explored the mediatized religious rhetoric of neo-Pentecostalism in Uganda. Situated at the intersection of communication and religion, I explored the construction of neo-Pentecostal rhetoric and also questioned the long term social impact of such rhetoric on Uganda and other developing countries. Interdisciplinary in nature, my study focused on three Ugandan pastors who own media houses, and have a long term presence in media. Through a contemporary rhetorical analysis of television broadcast programs and popular books written by the pastors, I examined the construction of the rhetoric in relation to the Ugandan socio-economic and cultural context. The study reveals that through a good reading of Ugandan traditional cultural beliefs and practices, and a good understanding of Ugandan socio-economic challenges, the pastors have strategically created religious rhetoric that is effectively aligned with the needs of a Ugandan audience. Through appropriation
of media technology, the pastors produce and circulate rhetoric that promises hope, economic upward mobility, and good health for all through a miraculous intervention of God. While the neo-Pentecostal rhetoric has provided some answers to help Ugandans cope with their challenges, in primarily proposing faith in God, relentless prayer, donations to God through the pastors, and honor and obedience to the pastors, neo-Pentecostal rhetoric has potential of shifting attention away from social and systemic causes like bad governance that underpin many Ugandan social challenges.


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