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Television and the Gospel of Entertainment in Ghana

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AbstractCharismatic-Pentecostal ‘media ministries’ have become very successful in Africa’s new media fields. They shape new forms of public religiosity that spill over into various forms of popular culture and resonate with broad audiences. This article explores the emergence of new Pentecostal publics at the intersection of media, religion, and entertainment in Ghana, raising critical questions concerning the relations between these domains. It analyses two different religious television broadcasts: a television ministry by a well-known celebrity pastor and a gospel reality show featuring a preaching competition for youth. It also considers the debates and concerns such programmes evoke locally. The analysis shows that Pentecostalism’s employment of popular media and entertainment styles is an effective source of persuasive power, but also poses challenges with regard to binding people as committed Christians. The blurring of boundaries between religion and entertainment business causes insecurities about the authenticity of religious authority and religious subjectivity.

Affiliations: 1: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Netherlands, Email: m.de.witte@vu.nl, URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink

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