Denis Bekkering, a Ph.D. candidate in the Religious Diversity in North America program, will present his research at a public talk.
Abstract: This dissertation offers cultural histories of unfaithful fan followings that have surrounded three controversial American televangelists – Robert Tilton, Tammy Faye Bakker/Messner, and Jim Bakker – from the mid-1980s to 2012, consisting of dedicated viewers bemused by, rather than religiously affiliated with, their chosen televangelists, and who poached these preachers to construct their own meanings, performances, and media. It is argued that through their ironic, parodic, and satirical play with such perceived religious fakes, these fans have performed religious work related to the ceaseless negotiation of authentic Christianity in America. Conceptualized in this dissertation as “Recreational Christianity,” it is demonstrated that such religious work/play has carried personal and public resonances, impacted televangelical brands, and provoked ministry responses including dismissal, accommodation, and counteraction.
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