The Politics of Divine Healing Practices
Keywords:divine healing practices, prayer, power, empowerment, politics, women, gender
This article interprets pentecostal divine healing practices as a strategy for mobilizing spiritual power, and as a complement to or replacement for political power. Although sometimes engaging in political activism to remedy the causes and symptoms of social and physical ills, pentecostals often privilege spiritual approaches to addressing ailments that are envisioned as ultimately spiritual in causation, and hence uniquely ameliorated by spiritual means. Divine healing practices—which invoke supernatural power to move the material world—sometimes function as an alternative to political, medical, or economic power. This is particularly the case for many two-thirds-world pentecostals who are relatively poor, uneducated, socially disenfranchised, and predominantly female. Pentecostalism has exhibited exponential growth because many people perceive pentecostal healing practices as embodying divine love and divine power. This article explains the appeal of pentecostalism to politically disempowered individuals and communities, and women in particular, considers both the empowering and oppressive potential of healing practices, and contemplates other possibilities if pentecostals do not offer spiritual avenues to empowerment.
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