Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

In SA, where around 80% of the pop­u­la­tion claim to be Chris­tian, Pen­te­costal churches have also grown in pop­u­lar­ity, though they don’t nec­es­sar­ily have much in com­mon with their Nige­rian coun­ter­parts. One ex­am­ple of a big Pen­te­costal church is the in­flu­en­tial Rhema Min­istries, which has its own TV sta­tion and owns a huge es­tate with a plush 750-seater au­di­to­rium in Rand­park Ridge, Rand­burg.

The head of Rhema Min­istries, former body­builder Ray McCauley, dis­likes hav­ing his church la­belled un­der the “pros­per­ity gospel” ban­ner. He says Rhema doesn’t use its TV sta­tion to raise money, un­like US tel­e­van­ge­lists, and tithing is vol­un­tary.

Jacques Rousseau, a lec­turer at the Univer­sity of Cape Town and di­rec­tor of the Free So­ci­ety In­sti­tute, dis­agrees. “It [Rhema] is a pros­per­ity cult. It teaches you that wealth is the same as hap­pi­ness and that all this is pos­si­ble if you give money to Ray McCauley.”

Of­fi­cially, State and church are sep­a­rated in SA, but in prac­tice this di­vide is not

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