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Keywords:

  • Ghana;
  • Christianity;
  • performance;
  • media;
  • electronic circulation;
  • morality;
  • neoliberalism

ABSTRACT

This essay traces Charismatic preaching and the moral importance of the fake pastor across public spaces and genres in Accra, Ghana. I argue that fear of the fake pastor creates a local theory of moral performance that sets the conditions of possibility for the legitimacy of the pastor as a public figure. Although rapid circulation generates anxiety about spiritual sincerity, it also produces continual hope for the miraculous and the potential for morally legitimate agency. The specter of the fake pastor provides a symbolic nexus for the transformation of spiritual into economic value in privatizing Ghana. This transformation occurs in the language of public moral belonging. A pastor's moral authority relies on public style and performance to connect spiritual power, moral sincerity, and economic potency. Fakery appears as the margin, the horizon against which a moral center is clarified. The fake's centrality to public moral discourse is rooted in the possibilities and dangers of individuated agencies associated with Ghana's liberalization.