Religious leadership and political engagement

Multidisciplinary Type I Proposal (exploratory research)

The charismatic movement has reshaped Christianity over the last century, challenging the traditional dominance of hierarchical organizations like the Catholic Church and Traditional Protestant Missions (Pew Research Center, 2015). In various contexts, but prominently in Africa and Latin America, these established entities have been supplanted by autonomous and independent evangelical churches. Within these autonomous religious organizations, leadership often rests in the hands of pastors who are arguably empowered by Weber’s charismatic authority (Weber, 2004). These pastors are key actors in fostering consensus and mobilizing citizens at the local level. Nevertheless, little is known about the selection process of these religious leaders and their interaction with local politics.

Therefore this grant application seeks funding to further investigate how religious leaders influence local political institutions, the selection process of these agents, and how they mobilize followers into a political agenda in the DRC. The purpose of the travel is to conduct focus groups with pastors and party members to develop protocols of systematic data collection among the universe of churches and parties in Kananga and to try to identify characteristics predicting political engagement through field surveys. The focus group discussions will allow a deeper understanding of activities leaded by these actors and how they are selected, which will serve as input for a future randomized control trial in partnership with Ndesha Mission, an institution that grants study degrees to pastors.

RFP Cycle:
Multidisciplinary Fall 2023 (RFP 22)
Democratic Republic of the Congo