Believing practically and trusting socially in Africa. The contrary case of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Durban, South Africa
THE UNIVERSAL Church of the Kingdom of god (UCKG) in South Africa presents an ethnographic anomaly, if not in the broad school of Religious studies, then at least in the study of Christianity in Africa.1 Pastors of the uCKg actively discourage intimate, emotional relationships with god and instead encourage members to engage in one-off contracts with god through large monetary sacrifices. in the church's services, pastors brand acts of Christian charity and fellowship as useless and warn their congregations that the empathy that inspires them to help others is an instrument Satan uses in war against god. Pastors even counsel their congregations against charitable work within the church's ranks and especially against donations to poorer UCKG members. this is not a one-sided directive. Many church members assert that their fellows are not trustworthy and actively resist the kinds of social intimacy common in other Pentecostal-charismatic churches (PCCs). in the absence of a church community, public testimonies and Mass sacrifices are striking features of the UCKG's daily services.