McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics: Televangelism in Contemporary India

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Jonathan D. James

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    Dedication

    I dedicate this book, with profound gratitude, to my family—my wife, Elizabeth; children, Ben and Melissa; my siblings and their families in Singapore, Sydney and Adelaide; and colleagues and friends scattered all around the world. Without your emotional support, prayers and encouragement this book would not have been started or finished!

    List of Tables and Figures

    Tables
    • 1.1a The historical-comparative framework 16
    • 1.1b The historical-comparative framework (continued) 28
    • 1.2 Global Charismatic televangelism's influence on the Church and the Hindu community 31
    • 2.1 Distinction between Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity 40
    • 3.1 Comparison between televangelism (global) and foreign mission 71
    • 3.2 Christians in India (Dalit and non-Dalit) 82
    • 3.3 Christians in India (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) 89
    • 3.4 Increase in foreign donations 94
    • 3.5 Top 3 donor countries (2004–2005) 94
    • 3.6 Top overseas donor agencies (2004–2005) 94
    • 3.7 Cities and districts which receive highest foreign funds (2004–2005) 94
    • 4.1 Televangelism—origins 105
    • 4.2 Televangelism—programme typology overview 106
    • 4.3 Locally-produced televangelism 106
    • 4.4 Televangelism (Indian and Western): Key words 107
    • 4.5 Televangelism—languages 107
    • 4.6 Differences between global and local televangelism programmes 109
    • 4.7 Programme analysis of Benny Hinn on God TV 112
    • 5.1aAastha programme schedule (indicative) 121
    • 5.1bAastha programme schedule (indicative) (continued) 122
    • 5.2 Programme content on Hindu channels 125
    • 5.3 Comparison between televangelists Shankar (Hindu) and Hinn (Christian) 126
    • 5.4 Is Hindu televangelism imitating Charismatic televangelism? 130
    • 6.1 Significant church influences (10 years) 134
    • 6.2 Sources of Charismatic influence 137
    • 6.3 Access to and knowledge of televangelistic programmes 137
    • 6.4 Attendance at Charismatic TV evangelists' meetings 138
    • 6.5 Identifying the meetings attended 138
    • 6.6 Influence of Charismatic televangelism 139
    • 6.7 Aspects of the positive influences 140
    • 6.8 Negative influences 140
    • 6.9 Culturally appropriate issues 145
    • 6.10 Culturally inappropriate issues 146
    • 6.11 Content analysis of Solutions—episode 3 151
    • 6.12 Culturally appropriate and inappropriate elements in Solutions—Christian leaders 153
    • 7.1 The Tehelka report: Accurate? 174
    • 7.2 Culturally appropriate and inappropriate elements in Solutions—Hindu leaders 178
    • 7.3 Summary and weighting of responses to Solutions179
    Figures
    • A Four settings xx
    • 1.1 Wallace's revitalisation theory 22
    • 2.1 Charismatic movement in the Christian context 39
    • 2.2 Full-circle accommodation assertion 54
    • 3.1 Historical roots assertion 76
    • 3.2 Indigenous scale 77
    • 3.3 Why Hindus respond to the Church? 95
    • 4.1 Future cable and satellite trends 101

    Foreword

    As we move further into the twenty-first century, we are learning to un-learn many of the assumptions and lessons of the twentieth century. This process is both a temporal one—times are changing along with our senses of time and of timeliness and timelessness—and a geographic one—we have come to think very differently about spaces and boundaries and differences and commonalities. The overall theme is probably best understood to be that of cultural globalisation. Cultures today exist in less isolation than in the past and in fact understand themselves and their uniqueness in relation to their place on regional, national and global ‘maps’.

    This is obviously an effect of the media age to a great degree. The modern means of communication make it possible for us to know and to know about ‘others’ from whom we are temporally and geographically separated. And, we find, those distances both define our differences, but at the same time, define our commonalities and our means of distinctiveness. Such deeply embedded cultural dimensions naturally introduce the question of religion and those practices and places that we might once have thought of as uniquely ‘religious’. Religion today functions as a primary means of identity, playing an important role in local, regional, national and global politics. And, the interaction between media and religion increasingly defines these cultural spaces and contexts.

    In this globalised era, we cannot anymore assume that the modern means of communication are exclusively the property of the global ‘North’ and ‘West’. Communication media link widely disparate spaces, cultures and histories, and the evolving religious cultures of these spaces, in globalised late modernity, increasingly define and are defined by this new reality. In this era, we can no longer think of media and communication only in terms of their technologies and channels, either. As those of us in the ‘North’ and ‘West’ experienced first, the media age has certain political-economic logics, which frame and define what once were purely ‘cultural’ practices and objects in new ways, chiefly experienced through processes of commercialisation and commodification. Thus, in this era of religious and media change, we must recognise that it is mediated and commodified spheres of action and cultural practices that make modern religious meanings possible.

    These intersecting realities are what makes a book such as this one so valuable. The form or substance of ‘televangelism’ might once have been thought of as entirely a creature of the United States or of the West, or of the mission outposts of American or European evangelicalism. We might also have assumed that the meaning of televangelism was only in its purest technological forms, expressed in specific ministries and broadcasts. Careful scholarship has revealed that the phenomenon was much more than this, that to understand it, we had to understand its historical, cultural, religious, media and economic contexts. We learned that televangelism was a mediatisation and commodification of religion. We further learned that its meanings and implications stretched well beyond what might have been thought to be its delegitimation through these ‘artificial’ processes. No, we learned televangelism and mediatised and commodified religious expressions and movements are organically authentic in their own ways and their own contexts and we need to interrogate them in these terms. We need to understand how they ‘work’ in cultural and religious senses. We also need to understand the political implications of all of this. As powerful generators of cultural meanings, religious media and mediatised religion have tremendous potential for generating solidarities, movements and identities that can have powerful implications for either understanding or misunderstanding, peace or conflict.

    This book in its own way, addresses these questions. It looks at the trajectory of the form and practice of televangelism as it has been expressed in an entirely new context, that of South Asia and it takes on board the realities of the form and of the broader form(s) of commodified, mediated religious experience. It looks at how these developments relate to questions of authenticity, power, politics and the future of religion and spirituality in these contexts. It looks at the histories it interrogates in their own terms and in their own contexts. As a contextualised case study outside the expected geographic and temporal contexts, it provides important insights into the general form of interactions between religion, media and markets. It tells us something about its own context, about other contexts and about the evolving situation with globalising religious and media cultures.

    Jonathan James thus presents us with a unique opportunity to look carefully at the evolving global situation in the new century through the lens of a particularly complex, layered and compelling case study. We all have much to gain from this, regardless of our own cultural, religious, geographic or political contexts.

    Professor Stewart M.Hoover
    School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Director, Centre for Media, Religion and Culture, University of Colorado at Boulder

    Acknowledgements

    It takes a team to produce a book and so I wish to offer my sincere thanks to a wide range of people and institutions for their help, patience, insight and perseverance in bringing this project to completion.

    I am indebted to Professor Stewart Hoover, one of the world's leading scholars in the field of Media, Culture and Religion for his encouraging and incisive foreword.

    I sincerely thank all the research participants in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Indore and Chennai for their willingness to be a part of this project. Special thanks go to Raju Cherian and Dr John Eapen who both did a marvellous job as research assistants. I am grateful to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in USA and India for their generosity in giving their time, materials and helpful information in connection with my research.

    I particularly want to thank: Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia for extending support in the form of editorial services, which were ably provided by Dr John Hall; Avrille Wasserman for her understanding and painstaking efforts in the production of the manuscript and Elina Majumdar, Anupam Choudhury and the entire team at Sage Publications for their cheerful assistance and patient disposition during the entire book-writing process.

    I wish to thank the following for giving me permission to use their materials: the editors of Studies in World Christianity and Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, to reproduce portions of my work which originally appeared in their journals; the editors of Missiology: An International Review to adapt Hiebert's (2000) diagram on Wallace's (1956) theory on revitalisation in Chapter 1; the editor of Satellite and Cable TV Magazine to reproduce a table on Cable TV trends in India in Chapter 4 and Sony Music/ATV to use the lyrics of the song Would Jesus Wear a Rolex in Chapter 7. If any copyright holders have been inadvertently omitted, the publishers and I would be more than pleased to make proper arrangements accordingly.

    Introduction

    One of the largest events in the history of Indian Christianity took place in February 2004 when America-based Charismatic evangelist Benny Hinn conducted his ‘Festival of Blessings’ Crusade in Mumbai.1 It was reported in the local media that 4.2 million people attended the three-day meeting (the biggest crusade held by Hinn thus far) at the 1.2 million square meter MMRDA grounds at Bandra-Kurla Complex (Light of Life, 2004: 97). The event was carefully orchestrated, with 20,000 volunteers, a 1,000 member choir, 32 giant TV screens, an enclosure for 17,000 sick and disabled people and parking facilities for 100,000 cars (Light of Life, 2004: 97).

    Benny Hinn had not previously visited the Indian subcontinent. So why was his crusade so successful? The success may be attributed to a number of factors including the fact that Hinn's huge Florida-based Church entity had been broadcasting his healing and teaching programmes through satellite television to India for at least six years before he set foot on Indian soil. Benny Hinn, whose TV programme is seen in 200 countries, is an example of the growing number of Charismatic televangelists whose ministry has entered the global arena through new technology (Benny Hinn Ministries, 2006).

    Background of the Book

    Over the last 10 years, as I have attended and participated in mission conferences in India, I have observed the changing shape and form of Christian ministry in the church.2 In the main, I have noticed the following changes in the church scene in India: the style of worship in the church, the emphasis and priorities for ministry, the preaching and the techniques and strategies for doing ministry. In many cases, there appears to be a subtle shift in the theological and hermeneutical framework of the church leadership, with pastoral techniques resembling the American model rather than the older models inherited under colonisation.

    Two interesting points are worthy of note. First, most of the changes mentioned above seem to have taken place in churches that are not well off economically. Second, most of the leaders in question would not have had the means to travel to the United States of America or to other Western countries, which presumably, are the sources of these new influences. So what has caused the changing church scene in India?

    On closer examination, I have found that the impetus for change has been television. I have learned that the Indian government's liberal attitude to satellite and cable television began in the early 1970s. This policy, which continues to be in force today, is enabling more and more Indians to access a plethora of American and international television programmes, including access to religious television or ‘televangelism’, to use a term coined by Jeffrey Hadden and C. E. Swann (Hadden and Swann, 1981). Thus, the question arose: What is the link between the changing shape and form of Christianity and the opening up of the airwaves in India? This book explores the hybrid phenomenon of Charismatic televangelism and its impact on the Protestant Church and Hindu community in India.

    The historian Neill (1984) categorises the work of Christian missions in India in several phases: first, there was the Syrian phase (which church tradition maintains, was started with the coming of St Thomas sometime between 50–52 ad); second, the Portuguese in the early fifteenth century; third, the Roman Catholic Jesuit phase in the middle of the fifteenth century and fourth, the Dutch and English phases which began in the early seventeenth century. (I will return to a detailed account of this history up till the middle of the twentieth century in Chapter 3.) Is televangelism another missionary phase in India? If so, what new challenges will the church and the community encounter as this new missionary strategy takes root in India?

    The book also reveals that, unlike the seminal missiological analysis developed by Walls (1996), that the centre of gravity of Christianity is moving from the North to the South and from the West to the East, international Christian television is still very much the domain of the Western nations and in particular of the USA. This book also differs from the findings of Goh (2004) that there is a new Asian Christian movement that is developing ministries in Asia from networks and hubs driven largely by Asian organisations and agencies (Goh, 2004). My research shows that whilst it may be true that aspects of the Asian missionary movement are becoming more indigenised, the realm of international television ministries in Asia, particularly in India, is still largely driven by the United States of America. Furthermore, these American televangelistic ministries, by and large, are not truly contextualised to the local Indian situation, thereby creating several tensions within the church and the larger community.

    Aim and Definition of Main Terms

    The aim of the book is to investigate the influence of Charismatic televangelism in urban India in two settings: the Protestant Church and the Hindu community.

    The key research issue concerns the hybrid phenomenon of Charismatic televangelism and its influence on the Protestant Church and the Hindu community in contemporary, urban India. The advent of televangelism has raised a number of issues which will be identified and investigated along with the key issue:

    • Televangelism and how it is rooted in Christianity's history in India;
    • Critical aspects of Indian Christianity which have an impact on televangelism;
    • The standing of Charismatic televangelism in India today.

    There are four main settings in the book (see Figure A): Televangelism, Charismatic theology, the Indian Protestant Church and the Hindu community.

    Figure A: Four settings

    Televangelism, will serve as the first research setting. Charismatic theology, which is a branch of Christianity with an experience-based emphasis, is the second research setting. The Christian church in India, with a 2,000-year tradition, forms the third setting, while the Hindu community serves as the fourth research setting.

    Here is a brief overview of the definitions of the main terms used in the study (a fuller description is provided in Chapters 2 and 4):

    • Televangelism is a hybrid concept (from the words ‘television’ and ‘evangelism’) that refers to the use of television as a means of propagating the Christian faith.
    • Charismatic is a term that originates from the Greek language (Charisma, a gift of God's grace), sometimes called ‘neo-Pentecostalism’. It is a reference to the movement within Christianity that focuses on the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, ‘slaying in the Spirit’ and miracles, as the norm for Christian faith and practice.
    • Church, refers in this study, to the Protestant denomination of Christian followers who adhere to the historic Christian doctrines following the Reformation movement. The term ‘Protestant’ is generally used in contradistinction to ‘Roman Catholicism’. ‘Denomination’ is a reference to established Christian congregations (with similar traditions) which have been in existence for many years, with widespread geographical membership but unified in some form of administrative body (Religious Tolerance Website). The theological understanding of the term ‘church’ is two-fold—the universal Church which consists of Christian believers of every age and place and, localised congregations in specific places. Together, the twofold meaning of the term, in a theological sense, refers to ‘God's new creation in an eschatological programme that was inaugurated by Christ's resurrection’ (Court, 2008: 539).

      Sociologically, however, the church in India is a diverse and pluralistic movement even within the Protestant denomination. Therefore, it is impossible to speak of the ‘church’ in a singular and ‘normative’ manner. For the purpose of this research, I have chosen four categories of churches within the evangelical, Protestant family in India. As these churches will form the basis of my research, references to the ‘Protestant Church in India’ and the ‘Indian Protestant Church’ or ‘the church’ in this book will refer to these four categories: Mainline non-Charismatic churches such as the Church of South India (CSI) and Church of North India (CNI); Mainline churches, such as Baptist and Methodist, which have appropriated Charismatic forms of worship and teaching, while retaining their denominational distinctives and traditions; Pentecostal denominational churches such as the Assembly of God and Neo-Pentecostal (Charismatic) independent churches, such as New Life.

    • Hindu, in this study, refers to both a follower of the Brahmanical religious faith of India as well as one who adheres to Hinduism as a way of life, in terms of a socio-cultural identity system. ‘Hindu televangelism’, in its broad context, can refer to Hindu religious content in many commercial television programmes such as soap operas and TV movies. In this study, however, ‘Hindu televangelism’ refers specifically to the establishment of separate Hindu channels that operate on a semi-commercial basis (like their Christian counterparts) featuring the religious and socio-cultural aspects of Hinduism.
    Why This Book?

    A book of this nature is important for several reasons. First, there is a tendency to think of the phenomenon of globalisation purely in economic and political terms. This study looks at globalisation from a cultural and religious standpoint. In particular, it looks at the role that religion and religious transnational organisations play in world cultures and religions. Hence, religion and globalisation are much more interconnected and implicated in each other than previously thought.

    Second, whereas televangelism in America has been the subject of several academic studies, international televangelism has not attracted sufficient scholarly attention. As technology and religious fervour increase and as religion becomes a ‘commodity’ in the growing global market, it is likely that televangelism ministries will also continue to increase all over Asia. Hence, there is a need for the study of this phenomenon in Asia.

    Third, in a country with a 2,000-year-old tradition of Christianity, televangelism is a new means of evangelising India. The American Christians are the last in a line of foreign missionaries to enter India. While the pre-colonial and colonial Christian eras were marked by oral communication and print communication respectively, the post-colonial Christian era is characterised by satellite and digital communication technology. As another missionary phase in India, after the Portuguese, Dutch and the British phases of colonial missions, what new challenges and tensions will the Church and community in India encounter from televangelism?

    Fourth, the book is significant in the Indian context, where there are currently four 24-hour Charismatic TV networks. Is the church in India changing as a result of Charismatic televangelism or will the rich cultural and Christian heritage of the Indian church resist the effects of the hybrid phenomena of Charismatic televangelism? Preliminary observations and discussions with Christian leaders in India indicate that Charismatic televangelism has induced ‘popular Christianity’. This is the kind of faith that appeals to the masses; arguably it is grounded in feelings and signs rather than on theological objectivity. This book aims to investigate this phenomenon.

    Fifth, the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, and the Hindutva call for an ‘India for Hindus’, has seriously affected Christians and the cause of Christian evangelism and mission activity in the last few years. In light of what is perceived by Christian leaders as a disturbing trend, how will televangelism be accepted by the Hindu community and what are the implications for the ongoing activities of the Indian Church?

    Sixth, an offshoot of the study is the discovery of the parallel development and growth of ‘Hindu televangelism’ in India, which occurred shortly after the introduction of Christian televangelism. Although a more comprehensive study on this interesting and relatively new phenomenon is warranted, my research will only address some of the issues of Hindu televangelism and its contested place in India's mediascape.

    Finally, the use of the ethnographic methodology to enter into the two Indian settings: the Protestant pastoral community and the Hindu community enabled me to gain an appreciation into the deep insights, sentiments, fears and aspirations of the members of these diverse groups. Eight assertions (discussed in Chapter 9) have arisen out of the ethnographic study. As a subsidiary approach to the main methodology, I devised an historical-comparative framework from three fields of study: post-colonial studies, sociology of religion and missiology (study of Christian missions). These three fields were examined in conjunction with the three eras of Indian Christianity: pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. As a result, I have devised two assertions and a measurement scale: the full circle accommodation assertion, the historical roots missiological assertion and the indigenous measurement scale.

    These will be discussed further in Chapters 2 and 3. It is hoped that this fresh approach and the new assertions will add significantly to the pool of knowledge and research in this particular field and potentially benefit the study of televangelism in other Asian contexts such as the Philippines or Taiwan, where there exists a liberal policy on transborder, religious television.

    Scope, Approach and Presentation Style

    This book seeks an understanding based mainly on the views of the Indian Church and Hindu community leaders, on the influence of Charismatic televangelism on contemporary, urban India. It does not provide a sustained critique of televangelism in India, neither does it provide a critique of Christian fundamentalism and its political agenda, although political concerns are freely expressed by various leaders and reported in the book. The focus of the book is to learn how both the Protestant Church and Hindu communities in India are being affected by global, transnational Christianity particularly through Charismatic televangelism.

    I chose pastors of churches and leaders of the Hindu community, rather than lay members as my participants for research because in the Indian context, leaders are decision-makers and gate keepers as Indian society observes a hierarchical structure (Sanne, 2003).

    Since the principal research interest is the combined understanding of the Protestant pastors and Hindu leaders, I chose the ethnographic approach as my primary methodology. The main methods chosen were participant observation and interviews. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 senior Christian leaders, 35 Hindu leaders and six key informants and specialists in Mumbai and Hyderabad. In the way of analysis, triangulation was used juxtaposing the three main qualitative methods (observation, interviews and case study) with two quantitative methods (survey and content analysis). As the principal researcher in this project, I was ably assisted by two research assistants from India.3

    A content analysis of television programmes was undertaken with the researcher watching 12 hours of the Christian television network Miraclenet (6 am till 12 noon and 6 pm till midnight) and a further 12 hours watching the second network God TV (same time slots). Another content analysis was undertaken for the Hindu channels: Aastha and Sanskar, with the researcher watching six hours of Hindu television (6 am till 12 noon on Aastha) and a further four hours on Sanskar (6 am till 10 am). Both these telecasts were viewed in Mumbai (on Thursday) and Hyderabad (on Saturday). Therefore, the total time spent on viewing television programmes in both Mumbai and Hyderabad amounted to 48 hours (for Charismatic televangelism) and 20 hours (for Hindu televangelism).

    A survey using a questionnaire for 60 middle-level pastors from both Charismatic and non-Charismatic persuasions was conducted in Mumbai and Hyderabad to gauge the views and understanding of the pastors on the topic of Charismatic televangelism. The information and views gathered from the content analysis and the survey were discussed with the senior pastors, Hindu leaders and key informants for greater understanding of the phenomenon of Charismatic televangelism.

    Paley (2001) contends that ethnographic research writing should combine personal discourse with scholarship (Paley, 2001: 1–25). In keeping with this approach, I use the first person as my literary style.

    Chapter Summaries

    The book contains nine chapters. Chapter 1 consists of an introduction to the key metaphors used in the book: McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics. These are seen in relation to globalisation, ‘glocalisation’ and commercialisation. I also outline the subsidiary methodology I used—relational-comparative analysis, from which I devised what I term the ‘historical-comparative framework’. This framework which is used to analyse televangelism in India, is drawn from three disciplines: post-colonial studies, sociology of religion and missiological studies. To conclude the chapter, I provide a summary of the key research findings. These findings are elaborated in Chapters 6 and 7 and analysed in Chapter 9.

    In the second chapter, I place Charismatic televangelism in its global context by tracing its roots to black American Pentecostalism. I also explain the theological underpinnings of the Charismatic movement in comparison to the larger evangelical body of Christianity. The roots of American televangelism and its growth into a world-wide phenomenon are also explored. Finally, the full-circle accommodation assertion, which suggests a link between Hinduism and the Charismatic movement, is postulated.

    Chapter 3 examines data on the history of Indian missions and relevant issues pertaining to the social and cultural aspects of Christianity in India. Televangelism is situated in India's church history as one of the missionary phases of Indian Christianity. This chapter addresses the two research issues: How televangelism is rooted in Christianity's history in India and the critical aspects of Indian Christianity today that affect televangelism. The chapter covers the following aspects: historical overview of Christian missions (from apostolic times to the present), indigenous Christianity, Pentecostalism in India, people groups and caste, urbanisation, church growth patterns and structures and Hindu-Christian tensions.

    Both the historical roots missiological assertion and the indigenisation measurement scale are discussed here. The historical roots assertion concludes that the contemporary church's call for indigenisation is basically a return to the pre-colonial Christian era and the indigenisation scale is a measuring device to assist the church in assessing the level of indigeneity in the various church and para-church ministries.

    Chapter 4 establishes the place that Charismatic televangelism has in contemporary India. It traces the origins of televangelism to the time of the Gulf war in 1991 when satellite television was introduced to the nation. Three different forms of Christian televangelism are identified: global (transnational); local and ‘glocal’ (based on a fusion of the global and the local). The characteristics of global and local televangelism are explained in preparation for the ethnographic study on global and ‘glocal’ Charismatic programmes in Chapters 6 and 7.

    Chapter 5 traces the origins of Hindu televangelism and analyses the two main Hindu channels in terms of programme content. A comparative study of Charismatic televangelist Benny Hinn and Hindu televangelist Shankar is undertaken. The relationship between Charismatic televangelism and Hindu televangelism is explored especially in the way the Hindu channels collude with the practices of consumerism and marketing techniques in the same fashion as Charismatic televangelists.

    Chapters 6 and 7 analyse the data on the influence of both global and ‘glocal’ Charismatic televangelism on the leaders of the Protestant Church and the Hindu community in urban India. In the main, ‘glocal’ televangelism is perceived to be more culturally in tune and, therefore, more acceptable to Indians than global televangelism.

    In Chapter 8, I examine the intermediary role that television plays in broadcasting the Christian faith. I do this by pointing to the areas of ownership, relationships and links to other global televangelism ministries as well as the issue of funding. I also point out the creation of the ‘new’ face of Christianity that is being undertaken by the Charismatic movement and televangelism together with the implications of this to the individual worshipper, the church and the larger Hindu community.

    In the concluding chapter of the book, I give a summary of the study as well as an analysis of the findings. I assess the impact of televangelism in India and postulate some broad predictions on mediated faith in today's global world.

    Notes

    1. Apparently, Hinn's Bangalore meeting in 2005 was attended by seven million people, according to various media reports (see http://www.indiasalvationcrusade.com/newsjan05.htm).

    2. The words ‘church’ and ‘churches’ are generally used interchangeably in this book to refer collectively to Protestant congregations within the evangelical tradition of Christianity, which constitute the research sample. At times the word ‘Church’ is used in the singular sense (capitalised) to refer to specific denominations such as the ‘Protestant Church’ or the ‘Catholic Church’. Unless specified, when reference is made to the ‘Indian Protestant Church’, the ‘Protestant Church in India’ or ‘the church’ I am referring collectively to the churches within evangelical Christianity that are the target of my research.

    3. All references to ‘the researcher’ in the chapters refer to me as principal researcher.

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    About the Author

    Jonathan D. James is a researcher and writer on Media, Religion and Culture. His research interests include: cultural globalisation, the social effects of new media, new religious movements, indigenisation, diaspora Asians in the West and the image industry in Asia. With an early education in Singapore and later training in professional television production and media in the USA, he is currently an adjunct Lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Perth and well-known in the Asia-Pacific region as a consultant, lecturer and guest speaker. His articles have appeared in refereed journals in Australia, UK and North America including The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture; Studies in World Christianity and Continuum: Journal of Media and Culture. He is widely-travelled in Asia, North America and the Pacific in his role as director of a church-based international development and educational agency.

    He is a research member of the culture and media group of CREATEC, the Centre for Research in Entertainment, Art, Technology, Education and Communications, at Edith Cowan University, and a member of the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia (CSAA). He is also President of Destiny Communications, an entity that provides newspaper and radio for community and educational purposes.


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