Paper at EASR 2012 Conference

The European Association for the Study of Religion will hold its 2012  Annual Meeting in Stockholm (23-26 August). The organising commitee has accepted my paper for presentation at the conference in a session on Pentecostal eschatologies. The title of my paper is:

Ban Ki Moon as the Antichrist and Gay Rights as Signs of the End Times: Pentecostalist Eschatology and Public Debate on Homosexuality in Zambia

In February 2012, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, visited the Republic of Zambia. During his visit he commented on the need for the country to recognise the human rights of homosexuals. His comment gave rise to a heated public debate on homosexuality and so-called “gay rights”. Clearly, Ban Ki Moon touched on a very sensitive issue in Zambia, a country that according to its constitution is ‘a Christian nation’ and where homosexual practices are legally prohibited. The debate following the statement is an interesting case both for the study of religion (particularly Christianity) and politics in postcolonial Zambia, and for the understanding of the recent controversies on homosexuality in Africa. In this paper I begin to unravel the debate, analysing the discussion on some Zambian news sites. Following the recent scholarly interest in the role of Pentecostal Christianity in public life in Africa, I will explore how Ban Ki Moon’s statement, and the wider issue of international pressure to recognise “gay rights”, is framed in Pentecostalist eschatological perceptions about the end times and the Antichrist. Precisely this religious framing may explain why homosexuality gives rise to such an enormous controversy in Zambia and other African countries today.

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