Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism have a long history in Africa, but it was in the 1980s and 1990s that they started to grow rapidly, often pushed by churches in the United States. While churches in the economic north are emptying out those in the Global South – and especially Africa – are growing.
In Ghana, for example, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches grew at a 4% rate each per year from 2010 till 2015, and this is one of the country, due also to its stability and its Christian majority, where churches are growing faster.
Travelling through the country it is possible to understand the importance of these churches: every meter it is possible to find some advertisments, and count hundreds of them in less than an hour.
Churches are shaping the landscape and the Ghanian society, and contributing, in different ways, to shape the policies of this African country: for example the fires of homophobia in Africa are fanned by the rhetoric of religious fundamentalists.
African church leaders are powerful. Their teachings have a wide reach that is not limited to Sunday mornings and mid-week services. There are TV channels, radio stations, international branches that reach a wide audience beyond their own congregations. Many of the churches are one man church, they don’t pay taxes on what they earn with offers, miracles, healings, tithe, etc …
Pastors, prophets and apostles have become some of the richest and more powerful people both in Ghana and in other countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, controlling, also, thousands of votes.
The promise of wealth and good health has filled their coffers with money from some of the world’s poorest faithful. Pastors promise to poor people to heal them from cancer and infertility, to bless them with eternal fortune, to make them rich.
In Ghana religion and spirituality are everywhere, deeply radicated in the society.
But religion can easily turn in a proper business.
Prophets and Profits wants to visually investigate the impact and the contraddictions of these booming churches in the Ghanian society.
This project was possible thanks to a grant by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting