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Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity: African-Surinamese Perceptions and Experiences

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Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity (P/C) is one of the fastest-growing religions worldwide. Some scholars connect P/C’s success with broad processes of globalization. Others try to unravel more personal dynamics of conversion. This article seeks to understand both global forces and local cultural reasons to believe. It focuses first on the remarkable paradox that explains the movement’s popularity among African-Surinamese (Caribbean) believers: what appears as P/C’s rejection of their traditional religious system turns out to be a reinterpretation of beliefs and practices. From this line of argument I argue that P/C actually enables people, by ways of demonization, to express their spirituality and translate magico-religious conceptions into an acceptable framework. In conclusion, I put this Pentecostal paradox into larger perspective, stressing similarities with other religious movements and exposing an eclectic attitude towards religion that does not only meet personal belief experiences, but also challenges the hegemonic position of established Christian churches in Suriname.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University The Netherlands, Email:


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