“IN-LINE RELIGION”: INNOVATIVE PASTORAL APPLICATIONS OF THE NEW INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (NICTS) BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NIGERIA
Keywords:In-line religion, Religion on-line, new information and communication technology, Catholicism, Nigerian Pentecostalism
In my researches in the field of media religion and culture, I have made extensive comparative analyses of the Catholic and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria and their different communication strategies. This paper highlights the appropriation of the new information and communication technologies by these two Christian denominations in Nigeria. Special attention is paid to the Catholic Church, because, unlike the Pentecostal denominations which see media technologies as an extension of the church pulpit, the Catholic Church has generally exhibited a somewhat cold attitude towards these instruments of mass communication. This attitude goes back to the advent of cinema which the Church’s hierarchy then saw as having the potential of corrupting faith and moral. The Catholic Church has remained largely a print-based Church, investing most of her communication energy in the print media and in oral catechism. But in recent years, this negative attitude of the Church has started to change. Of all the technologies of mass communication, none has been so instantly accepted and embraced by the Catholic Church as the new information and communication technologies. Using the Mater Cyberworld, (a cyber-café founded by the Ahiara Mbaise Catholic Diocese in Eastern Nigeria), as a case, this paper highlights some distinctive characteristics of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the new information and communication technologies. The analysis shows that this media appropriation is one of the means through which the Catholic Church establishes a strong presence in the Nigerian socio-political sphere.
Adeoya, Akin & Ajayi, Samuel. (1998) “The Preacher and the Promise” Thursday Jan. 10.
Alhassan, Abubakar (2008) “Not Lost in Translation and No Subtitle: Global Pan-Islamism, Al-Jazeera Satellite Broadcast, and Nigeria ‘s Non-Arabic Speaking Audience”. Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria:
Agulanna, E.C. (1998) The Mbaiseness of Mbaise. Owerri: I-O Publishers Ltd.
Ajaegbu, H.I. (1997) “Managing Mbaise Population for Development”. A Paper Delivered at the Mbaise Peoples Congress, 14 August.
Alexander, Bobby C. (1994). Televangelism Reconsidered: Ritual in the Search for Human Community. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Anderson, Jon W. (2003). “New Media, New Publics: Reconfiguring the Public Sphere of Islam,” Social Research 70 (3):887-906.
Armstrong, Ben. (1979) The Electric Church. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena. (2008) “Into the World through New Media: African-initiated Pentecostalism and Cyberspace Witness” Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria: 10-12 July.
Babin, Pierre. & Zukowski, Angela A. (2002). The Gospel in cyberspace: Nurturing faith in the Internet Age. Chicago: Loyola University Press
Brasher, Brenda. (2004). Give Me That On-Line Religion. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Bruce, Steve. (1990). Pray TV: Televangelism in America. London & N.Y.: Routledge.
Campbell, H. (2006). “Religion and the Internet”, Communication Research Trends, 25(1).
Catholic Diocese of Ahiara Mbaise (2006). Diary and Calendar of Pastoral Events. Ahiara Mbaise: The Guide Publications.
Eilers, Franz-Josef (1993) Church and Social Communication: Basic Documents. Manila: Logos Publications.
Eilers, Franz-Josef (1994) Communicating in Community: An Introduction to Social Communication. Manila: Logos Publications.
Fernbeck, Jan. (2002). “A case study of the construction of computer- mediated neopagan religious meaning” in S. Hoover & L. S. Clark (Eds.), Practicing religion in the age of the media: Explorations in media, religion and culture (pp. 254-275). New York: Columbia University Press.
Flor, A.G. (2001) eDevelopment and Knowledge Management: ICT Applications for Sustainable Development, Los Banos, Philippines: SEAMEO-SEARCA.
Haron, Muhammed. (2004). The South African Muslims Making (Air)Waves during the Period of Transformation, in D. Chidester, A. Tayob and W. Weisse (eds.) Religion, Politics, and Identity in a Changing South Africa,. New York: Waxmann Munster.
Hackett, Rosalind I.J. (Forthcoming, 2008) “Devil Bustin’ Satellites: How Media Liberalization in Africa Generates Religious Intolerance and Conflict.” In: Hackett, Rosalind I.J. & James Smith (eds.). The Religious Dimensions of Conflict and Peace in Neoliberal Africa. University of Notre Dame Press.
Hadden, Jeffrey K. & Charles E. Swann. (1981) Primetime Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.
Hadden, Jeffery K. and Cowan, Douglas E (2001) Religion on the Internet, Vol. 8, London: Elsevier Science and Technology Books.
Helland, Christopher. (2000). “Online-Religion/Religion-Online and Virtual Communitas”, in J.K. Hadden and D.E. Cowan (eds.) Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises, pp.205-23. New York: Elsevier Science Press.
Hoover, Stewart M. 1988. Mass Media Religion: The Social Sources of the Mass Media Church. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Hoover, Stewart M. Clark, Lyn Schofield, and Ranie, Lee (2004) “Faith Online. A report of the Pew Internet and American Life Project”. www.pewinternet.org.
Hoover, Stewart M. and Park, Jin Kyu (2005). “Religion and meaning in the digital age: field research on Internet/Web religion,” in Eric Rothenbuhler and Mihai Coman (eds.) Media Anthropology, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Ihejirika, Walter C. (2005). “Media and Fundamentalism in Nigeria”, Media Development, LII, (2), 38-44.
Ihejirika, Walter C. (2006a) From Catholicism to Pentecostalism: Role of Nigerian Televangelists in Religious Conversion. Port-Harcourt: University of Port-Harcourt Press.
Ihejirika, Walter C. (2006b) “Assessing the Impact of the Catholic Media on the Emergence of a Just, Peaceful and Egalitarian Nigeria”, in Obiora, Ike (ed.) Eternity is Love: Africa and the Legacy of Gaudium et Spes, 40 Years After, pp. 268-286. Enugu: CIDJAP Publication.
Ihejirika, Walter C. (Forthcoming 2008) “Gospel Music as a Mediating Factor Between Religious Groups in Nigeria”, Journal of Religion and Cultural Studies.
Jewel, John. (2001). New Tools for a New Century: First Steps in Equipping your Church for the Digital Revolution, Nashville: Abingdon.
Jewel, John. (2004) Wired for Ministry: How the Internet, Visual Media, and Other New Technologies can Serve Your Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press.
Lyon, Andrew P.& Harriet D. Lyons. (1991). “Religion and the Mass Media”, in Jacop K. Olupona, & Toyin Falola (eds.). Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.
Martin, David. (2002). Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Martini, Carlo. (1990) “Lets Organize Hope: Situations, Priorities, Methods,” in The New Media Age: Meeting the Challenge, Unda/OCIC Study Days, Bangok, 1990. Brussels: UNDA/OCIC.
Martini, Carlo. (1994) Communicating Christ to the World: Kansas City: Sheed & Ward.
Meyer, Birgit. 2001. “Modern Mass Media, Religion and the Imagination of Communities: Different Postcolonial Trajectories in West Africa, Brazil, and India”. (available on line at: www.pscw.uva.media-religion).
Miller, D. and Slater, D. (2000) The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. London: Berg.
Omachonu, Boniface. “Constructing ATR Through The Internet: Between Authenticity and Fakeness.” Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria: 10-12 July.
Owoeye, S. A. “Deeper Life Bible Church and Evangelism through Satellite and Internet”. Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria: 10-12 July.
Parkinson, S. Telecentres, Access and Development: Experiences and Lessons from Uganda and South Africa. Kampala – Uganda: Fountain Publishers.
Peck, Janice. (1993) The Gods of Televangelism: The Crisis of Meaning and the Appeal of Religious Television. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press Inc. Pontifical Council for Social Communication, (2002). The Church and Internet. Vatican City: Editrice Vaticana.
Pope John Paul II (2002) “Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel”. Message for the 36thWorld Communication Day.
Tacchi, J. Slater, D. & Lewis, P. ((19-21 May 2003) “Evaluating Community Based Media Initiatives: An Ethnographic Action Research Approach”, Paper for OUR Media III Conference, Baranquilla, Colombia.
Tacchi, J. Slater, D. & Hearn, G. (2003) Ethnographic Action Research. New Delhi: UNESCO.
Taiwo, Rotimi. “Religious Discourse in the New Media: A Case Study of Pentecostal Discourse Communities of SMS Users in South Western Nigeria”. Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria: 10-12 July.
Underwood, Doug (2002) From Yahweh to Yahoo: The Religious Roots of the Secular Press. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Ugo, S. (1994) “Slow Pace of Development in Mbaise: A Challenge to Mbaise Elites”, Paper delivered at Ikoro Mbaise Organization, New York, June 25th.
Ukah, Asonzeh, (2008). “Seeing is more than Believing: Posters and Proselytization in Nigeria”, in Rosalind, I.J, Hackett (Ed.) Proselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free markets and Culture Wars, London: Equinox Publishing Limited.
Ukah, Asonzeh (Forthcoming 2008b) “Mediating Armgeddon: Popular Christian Video-Films as Source of Conflict in Nigeria” in Rosalind Hackett, Jim Smith and Sakah Mahmud, eds. Religion and Peacebuilding in Africa.
Ukah, Asonzeh, (Forthcoming 2008c), “Roadside Pentecostalism: Religious Advertising in Nigeria and the Marketing of Charisma”.
Ukah, Asonzeh, (2005a). ‘”Those Who Trade with God Never Lose’: The Economics of Pentecostal Activism in Nigeria”, in Toyin Falola (ed.), Christianity and Social Change in Africa: Essays in Honor of John Peel. Carolina: Carolina Academic Press: 251-274.
Ukah, Asonzeh, (2005b) “The Local and the Global in the Media and Material Culture of Nigerian Pentecostalism” in Laurent Fourchard, André Mary and René Otayek (eds.) Entreprises religieuses transnationales en Afrique de l’Ouest (Transnational Religious Enterprises in West Africa) Paris: Karthala
& Ibadan: IFRA: 285-313.
Ukah, Asonzeh, (2003). “Advertising God: Nigerian Christian Video-Films and the Power of Consumer Culture”. Journal of Religion in Africa 33 (2):203-231.
van DIJK, Rijk A. (2004). “Beyond the Rivers of Ethiopia”: Pentecostal Pan-Africanism and Ghanaian Identities in the Transnational Domain. In W. van Binsbergen and R. van Dijk (eds.) Situating Globality: African Agency in the Appropriation of Global Culture,. Leiden: Brill.
van DIJK, Rijk A. (2001) “Time and Transcultural Technologies of the Self in the Ghanian Pentecostal Diaspora”, in André Corten and Ruth Marshall Fratani (eds.) Between Babel and Pentecost. Transnational Pentecostalism in Africa and Latin America, pp. 216-34. London: Hurst & Co.
Yahya, Muslih Tayo. “ICT and Islamic/Christian Proselytization: An Examination of Objectives and Approaches”. Paper presented at the International Conference on New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa. Abuja, Nigeria: 10-12 July.
Zaleski, J. (1997). The soul of cyberspace: How new technology is changing our spiritual lives. New York: Harper Collins.