Siyabonga Africa

Siyabonga Africa

The Pentecostal way might save the day, says a study by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE).

Ann Bernstein, executive director of the CDE, said the findings of a two-year study on Pentecostalism were very interesting.

"We have concluded that among the surprising and salutary findings unearthed by our research, the most significant for South Africa's development is the amount of untapped social capital available for development and economic growth hidden away in a social revolution happening under our noses," she said in a statement yesterday.

The CDE said that since 2001 the Pentecostal faith has grown by 55 percent in a population of 12 million Christians.

The CDE hosted a press briefing yesterday to discuss the findings of their research into Pentecostalism and development in South Africa.

In attendance were three academics: Professor David Martin, a sociologist of religion; Professor Matthews Ojo, head of the Divinity Department of the University of Regent in Ghana; and Professor Pete Berger, director of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs and professor of sociology and theology at Boston University in the US.

"If you practise what Pentecostal churches preach, as in do not drink, smoke, do drugs or sleep around, you could increase your income by 50 percent," said Berger.

Berger delivered a lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand on Monday night, titled Faith and Development: A global perspective.

Berger argued that religion had played a major role in the development of capitalism as the most dominant economic policy in the world.

Bernstein said that in their research they found that Pentecosts tended to save more than people from other mainstream religions, and Pentecostalism had managed to penetrate the economy's income brackets more comprehensively.

"We once went to a Rhema Church service and saw expensive cars parked next to Putco buses," she said.

Berger also pointed out that one did not have to be a Pentecost in order to practise what one preached.

"You can be a Pentecost in practice and not necessarily in faith," he said.

Bernstein said they hoped to further the research they had done so far.

"We hope to get politicians, businesses and also the media involved," he said.