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Book reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 62–80

illustrations, I quote from a sermon by Moses Orimolade Tunolase, the founding prophet and evangelist of one of the earliest Aladura churches, the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim – a quotation which, according to Peel, represents the ‘authentic attitude’ of Aladura Christianity toward the orisa: ‘Sango and Oya, igunu, eyo, adamuorise, gelede, egungun nmwawun (masqueraders) etc. Any person still interested in the above is worshipping other gods contrary to the first and second commandments. A live Christian must steer clear of all these practices – Evil communication corrupts good manners’ (in Peel, ‘‘Syncretism and Religious Change,’’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 10 [1968], p. 132). My one other criticism is surely much more arbitrary, and largely the quibble of a scholar who is quite interested – too interested, some of my students tell me – in theory. As I read Crumbley’s otherwise excellent book, I kept expecting her to theorize in a more developed or sustained way at least two issues that lie very close to the heart of Aladura’s impressive spread, which is now increasingly global: conversion and embodiment. We do read about reasons for people’s entry into Aladura churches, although what these reasons suggest about conversion in Africa more broadly is left unsaid. It was to me quite surprising in this regard to see no reference in Spirit, Structure, and Flesh at least to Robin Horton’s landmark 1971 article on conversion and some of the centrally relevant debates that it has sparked – more surprising still for Horton’s use of Peel’s book on the Aladura as a platform, as it were (see Horton, ‘‘African Conversion,’’ Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 41 [1971]: 85–108). As for embodiment, meanwhile, this is a central trope in Crumbley’s analysis, yet she foregoes any sustained theorization of the function of embodiment in religion at large, and engages none of the impressive literature on the topic that has emerged in recent years (the work of Sarah Coakley, Thomas Csordas, Meredith McGuire, and Philip Mellor come to mind in this regard). Let it be said in conclusion, however, that my criticisms are not at all intended to suggest that Crumbley’s book somehow lacks quality; they are merely allusions to things that I felt were either left unsaid or that could have used further development (the text is rather short, so I should think that her editors at UWP would have allowed for this?). On the whole, I’m left very impressed by Crumbley’s sensitive yet critical reading of the gendered power differential in Aladura religion, and by her authoritative voice and compelling, respectful personal entry into the story. She casts no ‘ethnographic gaze’ on her subjects and constructs her narrative in an admiringly reflexive manner, which could only be the result of the 20 years of sustained interest that she has taken in Aladura spirituality on both the scholarly and personal level, and by her living among Aladura believers in Nigeria for four continuous years and reaching out to them as a sister in Aladura diasporic communities in places like her own hometown of Philadelphia. As part of her extensive research, Crumbley travelled to England to meet with the venerable Professor Peel, who suggested to her that her own upbringing in an African American Pentecostal church could fruitfully be brought to inform her study of Aladura, and this has proven to be remarkably true. As such, Spirit, Structure, and Flesh, while primarily being a most welcome study of women in Aladura churches, will also be embraced enthusiastically by those of us seeking a deeper understanding of African spirituality and its beautiful and far-reaching influence throughout the world. Terry Rey Temple University (U.S.A.) E-mail address:

doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2009.05.002 Rosalind I.J. Hackett, ed., Proselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free Markets and Culture Wars. London, Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2008, xiv D 480 pp., $95 (hardback), ISBN: 9781845532277, $29.95 (paperback), ISBN: 978 1 845 53228 4. Whether religious proselytizing is a right deserving legal protection, or an offense requiring regulation, is the subject of vehement debates in many parts of the world. In recent decades, these debates have attracted the attention of scholars, whose research has definitively challenged many assumptions about the ‘private’, ‘interior’ or ‘apolitical’ nature of proselytizing, conversion, or religion even in modern secular societies. Jean and John Comaroff have shown that the Christian missionary enterprise was inextricably imbricated with European imperialism; more recently, Gauri Viswanathan has demonstrated that religious conversion, far from a mere change in private belief, is often a form of social and political protest. Proselytizing Revisited extends discussions about the public nature of proselytization by attending to the role of law. Inspired by the multi-volume series initiated by John Witte at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University (Religion and Human Rights, published by Orbis Books), Proselytizing Revisited seeks ‘to identify the new actors/sources, areas, strategies, media, challenges, as well as new conflicts stemming from proselytizing activity in our globalizing world’, with an eye to the national and international legal regimes that shape contemporary debates (Hackett, p. 13). Modern debates about proselytizing are firmly rooted in an international language of human rights that includes the right to ‘religious freedom’. Proselytizing Revisited makes a valuable contribution to the literature by bringing together in one volume the variety of arguments made for and against proselytization in different regions and contexts. As the authors note, even opposition to proselytizing is now often argued in the language of human rights (Mayer, p. 44). This collection of essays yields a very instructive demonstration of the manifold interests that ‘rights talk’ can be made to serve. The volume consists of 19 essays. Following the introductory essay by Rosalind Hackett, these are grouped into five sections. Section I consists of three ‘theoretical’ essays, which together with the introduction present the themes and debates taken up by the authors, and suggest some shared conclusions. Sections II through V gather the essays into geographical groupings, dealing with proselytizing activities in Africa, Asia, Russia and Central Asia, and the United States. The merit of the volume, however, goes far beyond portraying regional variations in proselytizing practices or debates. When read side by side, the essays in this volume can provide renewed critical perspective on the uses of ‘rights talk’ in individual instances. The first two chapters introduce the reader to the problems that have inspired the essays. As Mayer tells us in Chapter 2, it is very clear that conflicts over proselytizing cannot be reduced to ‘a matter of conflicting religious beliefs’ (p. 48), but are more often a product of perceived threats to group cohesion or national interests among targeted populations, fears that missionaries’ conduct has often reinforced. Furthermore, even opponents of proselytizing tend to accept, rather than oppose, the principle of ‘religious freedom’ (p. 44). Indeed, as

Sharkey argues persuasively that opposition to proselytizing in modern Egypt is a product of the experience of imperialism. Scott’s observation that ‘[a]s the concepts of ‘‘mission’’. Several essays foreclose any easy association of Christian evangelism with imperialism by documenting proselytization initiatives originating in the ‘global south’ or in Asia (cf. However. Freston. 54). Several describe the different stances toward proselytizing among Christian churches. this subject has been treated elsewhere. the Soka Gakkai and others in Japan – that understand Buddhism to include an evangelizing imperative. groups have combined proselytizing with social welfare and education initiatives. They conclude that the concept of religion on which proselytizing is based is a detrimental one. doctrines or belief systems of the two religions in question’ (p. Understanding of both of these arguments requires attention to the historical experiences that have linked religious proselytizing. the defensibility of proselytizing is being debated even among legal scholars of human rights. In Chapter 4. 223). and to consider which groups might be disadvantaged (see Richardson). p. In Chapter 3. Drawing on the case of India. NGOs and evangelical Christians have rallied the support of European and American governments in their struggle against efforts to pass national legislation limiting conversions in Sri Lanka. This brings me to a limitation of the volume. The United States’ International Religious Freedom Act (1995) and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) are two instances of how the right to proselytize may be encoded in international law in ways that carry the threat of sanctions against non-complying countries. the other is grounded in ‘anti-imperialism’. and about the possibility of material inducement to conversion. the virtue of proselytizing practices is also being debated. In Sri Lanka. raising questions about the vulnerability of the ‘targets’ of their efforts. p. and Hinduism. Evangelical efforts in Russia since the 1990s were most active during times of economic hardship (see Kazmina). including public order or ethical means. pp. In an essay on Buddhist Nationalist opposition to Christian evangelizing in Sri Lanka. Concerns over ‘church-switching’ are also in the background of controversies about Pentecostal ‘religious advertisements’ in Nigeria. and ‘‘conversion’’ are fluid in relation to historical and cultural contexts. Kao lists two other ‘anti-proselytization’ arguments: one cites ‘group protection’. is invoked more than once for his position that the free reign of proselytizing religions in Africa has meant ‘cultural genocide’ for African religions. is that it obscures the contingencies of its arguments with a universalist appeal to human freedoms’ makes sense in light of these global realities (p. reasoned preference. 89). Berkwitz. which it is generally agreed ought to be the product of free. and who may pursue any number of agentive relations with them. Essays by Scott and Mullins describe modern Buddhist movements – the Dhammakaya Temple in Thailand. In their view. 249). The argument of ‘substitution’ is used among Christians to criticize those evangelical practices that encourage Christians to reject one Christian church in favor of another. Kovalchuk). 84). Social welfare activity can provide a more palatable guise for proselytizing in contexts where religious interference is not welcomed: thus Turkish missionaries conceal Islamic intentions beneath an outward emphasis on education and nationalism in Central Asia (see Balci). Berkwitz’s remark that ‘the problem with the discourse of rights. others. its aim is to treat ‘proselytizing as process’. Professor of Law at the University of Buffalo Law School. Such arguments can cut two ways. Another argument against proselytization seeks to set limits by demarcating ‘appropriate targets and tactics’ and criticizing practices which exceed their bounds. DeBernardi. national unity. They go still further by also condemning the legal protection of proselytization enshrined in the principle of religious freedom. Makau Mutua. ‘‘missionary’’. Buddhism. others describe debates among evangelical Christians about whether proselytizing should take the overt form of doctrinal polemics. but not ‘outreach’ that seeks to change affiliation (Kao. The argument for ‘non-recruitment’ opposes all activity that aims to change the religious commitments of members of other religious communities. and concerns with ‘cultural survival’. It allows for ‘inreach’ – efforts to strengthen the commitments among religious adherents (for example. Absent from the volume. ‘‘proselytization’’. such as the right to ‘cultural survival’. Kao gives reasons for applying a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ to anti-proselytizing arguments. In many cases. which find their audience predominantly among Christians rather than non-Christians (see Ukah). or the gentler form of modeling Christian virtues through works (see Elisha). As the authors observe. demonstrates that fears of imperialism are as rooted in the present as in the past. 88). Claerhout and De Roover present perhaps the strongest critique of religious proselytizing. Kao. practices that are sometimes characterized as ‘sheep-stealing. 65). As the authors observe. among missiologists and Church historians. 6–7. it also behooves us to turn a critical eye on the group identities that are defended by means of such arguments (p. proselytizing necessarily involves ‘religious rivalry: a competition between the teachings.’ Such arguments are at the heart of controversies between the Eastern Orthodox Church in Russia and the mostly Protestant evangelical movements that have established themselves in the country since the 1990s. any critical assessment of the arguments mobilized for or against proselytizing must consider the perspectives of those who perceive association with proselytizing agencies to bring them some benefit. NGOs have combined Christian missionary objectives with relief work following the tsunami of 2004 (see Berkwitz). Other essays provide different perspectives on this question. is a consideration of those who become the ‘target’ of proselytizing groups. Certain principles justifying the regulation of proselytizing activity. As Kao observes.Book reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 62–80 71 Hackett informs us in Chapter 1. or of religious opposition of the . The trouble with silence on this subject is perhaps illustrated by the following observation: although the essays refer repeatedly to the anti-proselytizing stance of the Hindu Right in contemporary India – as an example of a nationalist ‘group protection’ stance. Chapters 3 and 4 lay out the contours of the debates over proselytizing. and evangelical Christians in the United States rely on faith-based activism in order to ‘Christianize’ public life despite secular policy (see Elisha). But it could be argued that to be complete. Such criticisms are not only directed toward religious communities from outside. Using Kao’s typology. an ‘anti-imperial’ stance. therefore. ‘Jews making Jews into better Jews’). Claerhout and De Roover argue that proselytizing is peculiar to Christianity and Islam and alien to Jainism. which ought to be protected against this outcome (Hackett. including but not limited to seeking conversion. Kao also lists the types of arguments that are mobilized against proselytization within the logic of human rights. I will endeavor to illustrate the range of the volume and to demonstrate what I understand to be its great virtue: how the essays read collectively can enrich the arguments of individual chapters. the essays in Proselytization Revisited provide a caution against generalizing arguments about proselytizing. are well established. and that the ‘universal declaration of a right to religious freedom is part of the problem in India’ (p. when laws favoring religious freedom were passed (see Kazmina). ‘[w]hile the integrity and cohesiveness of groups can indeed be threatened’ by proselytizing activity. for example. or resistance to foreign domination. like Sharkey. are more contentious. religious identity. Several essays in the volume point to the grounds for such criticism. there are no simple answers. so too is the role and practice of proselytization within traditions at specific moments in history’ provides a useful counterpoint to Claerhout and De Roover’s position (p. When read collectively.

003 Oliver Scharbrodt.S. Oliver Scharbrodt provides a striking exception to this history of disinterest and neglect. Islam. Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). According to Scharbrodt. £76 (Hardback). they converge in unexpected and creative ways. Sharkey. the forms of legal regulation that have been imposed upon it. Scharbrodt focuses throughout on the relevance of Weber’s theories concerning charismatic authority. after all. This is not a book that will appeal greatly to either Baha’is or Muslims. DeBernardi. Rahn. Abingdon/New York. This limitation of scope aside.1016/j. ‘Abd al-Baha’ has suffered from a very limited range of biographical information. He does not just take a second look at the two movements. post-Islamic faith in late 19thcentury Ottoman Turkey and Syria. Louis (U. The result is a compelling achievement that opens up new avenues for research in both areas and for the re-examination of matters chronologically prior to and after the two men whose careers form the basis for the present work.A. or Buddhism. contextualizing and comparing these two religious reformers promised to be a more exciting research project – exciting because it was unusual. especially those in the first flush of youth. Babism was a short-lived movement that fell far short of its original hopes to revolutionize Shi’ite Islam. Rather than excavating letters. ISBN: 978 0 415 77441 3. Like his father. Scharbrodt shows how Baha’ism moved from its roots in the doctrinally bizarre and jihadist Babi movement to become a liberal. Balci). his personal roots in Sufism and in the heterodox thought of the political dissident Jamal al-Din al-Afghani represent a stain on his character that has to be covered by a more conventional portrayal of his early life. often feel obliged to cover up or re-write their origins. national elites. have done well in recreating the reformist milieu in which the Baha’i prophet Mirza Husayn ’Ali ‘‘Baha’ Allah’’ (1817–1892) and his son ’Abbas Effendi ‘Abd al-Baha’ (1844–1921) built a modernizing. but also present in the Sufi circles in which the young ’Abduh found much of his religious inspiration. but never made any serious numerical growth.religion. For all its intrinsic interest. rather than revealed. And it’s not just that.2009. The greatest neglect here has been from sociologists of religion. Claerhout and De Roover). so did Salafism under ’Abduh’s leading disciple Rashid Rida (1865–1935) move away from its charismatic underpinnings to the routinization of fraternities like the Muslim Brotherhood. to make them conform to later doctrinal and historiographical opinion. he places them firmly within the history of modern Islamic reform. and international human rights lawyers who have a stake in the adjudication of proselytization. For those Muslims who see ’Abduh as the doyen of modern Islamic orthodoxy.05. sifting through memoirs and biographers. of course. Scharbrodt’s own research is just what a study like this demands: detailed. pacifist.’ ‘anti-imperialism’.. as it connects to religious movements which are normally not brought together’ (pp. wide-ranging. Islam and the Baha’i Faith: A comparative study of Muhammad ‘Abduh and ‘Abdul-Baha ‘Abbas. The evident social and political stakes of such conversions point to an important facet of proselytizing which is doi: 10. particularly from his disciple Rashid Rida. And just as Baha’ism underwent the beginnings of a radical routinization of charisma during the lifetime of Abd al-Baha’s grandson. the Great Apostasy of modern Islam. a marked feature of Babism and Baha’ism. and his mystical training in Sufism.’ It is not only global missionary groups. C. . mainly because his Baha’i contemporaries preserved a limited range of hagiographically focussed information. This wealth of perspectives from around the world offers valuable critical perspective on how the issues are framed in any given context. Although previous writers. Scharbrodt goes a step further. and careful. and reformist sect that finally declared itself a post-Islamic religion. Proselytization Revisited brings together a wealth of research on the controversies proselytization has provoked.72 Book reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 62–80 ‘non-recruitment’ variety – there is no mention of the real threat that this stance poses to the security of the life and liberty of religious minorities and depressed caste groups in India today (cf. before describing the passage to a mixture of educational reform and scriptural traditionalism. Underpinning the narrative of this comparative intellectual biography is Scharbrodt’s detailed weaving of the ‘contextualization’ referred to above. however dissimilar their lives may seem on the surface.) E-mail address: cadcock@artsci. by arguments about ‘group protection. Freston. who emphasized his connections to orthodoxy while sidelining his involvement with Sufi mysticism and the radicalism of his mentor Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. or ‘non-recruitment. Adcock Washington University in St. collecting newspaper articles in order to discover clues on how their relationship might have evolved throughout their lives. He writes parallel accounts of ‘Abd al-Baha’ and that enduring figure of modern Islamic reform. Hindu Nationalist opposition to proselytizing in India especially since Independence has been fanned by the periodic occurrence of mass conversions by low-caste and Dalit (formerly ‘Untouchable’) groups to Christianity. That.wustl. The reasons are not hard to find. And he paints a fresh picture of ’Abduh. is precisely what makes this such a groundbreaking study.S. and he does so by demonstrating that. Baha’ism moved rapidly away from any identification with Islam to become a separate religious movement that has spread internationally. nor are these the only groups who have learned to stake their claims in the language of human rights. Religious movements. in which he emphasizes his revolutionary roots through his long association with and personal devotion to Afghani. Mayer. and modern admirers of ’Abduh (including his Salafi offspring) are deeply averse to the thought of any link between their hero and what represents. and the techniques by which proselytizing groups have negotiated and contested legal regulation (cf. notably Juan Cole. 237pp. Baha’is prefer to see the lives and teachings of their holy figures as severely divorced from the currents in which they swam. The voices of the proselytized must also be taken into consideration. their historical relationship was sidelined and almost became irrelevant in the course of the research. Muhammad ’Abduh (1849–1905). 169–170). Routledge (2008). ’Abduh too suffered from a hagiographical spin. Baha’ism and its antecedent Babism are topics that have been seriously neglected by Islamicists and scholars of Iranian history. While the physical encounter between ’Abdul-Baha and Muhammad ’Abduh initiated this study.