The Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative, based at the University of Southern California, and funded with $3.5 million from the John Templeton Foundation, will provide grants for centers and individual scholars to conduct social science research on Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union.
Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity is among the fastest growing religious movements in the world. Pentecostal denominations, and expanding networks of charismatic churches and movements, are estimated to include at least half a billion members-approximately one quarter of the world’s Christian population. The initiative will also seek to sponsor research on charismatic movements in mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
“Our goal is to inspire research partnerships around the globe and fund projects that will shape the discussion for years to come,” said Donald Miller, executive director of USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture and author of Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement, in an article on the website CharismaMag.com.
Miller added, “We are interested in understanding why Pentecostalism is growing so rapidly, what impact it is having on society and how it is different in various cultural settings.”
With the largest charismatic populations in the “global South,” the growth of converts in these countries “has far-reaching implications for international politics and interactions among religious groups,” said Brie Loskota, program officer at PCRI. “Studying Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity is critical to understanding the ways in which religion shapes our world.”
Richard Cimino is the founder and editor of Religion Watch, a newsletter monitoring trends in contemporary religion. Since January 2008, Religion Watch is published by Religioscope Institute. Website: www.religionwatch.com.