Channeling justice? a feminist exploration of North American televangelism in a South African constitutional democracy.
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In this dissertation I argued that despite the South African Bill of Rights many women and persons with non-conforming gender and sex/sexual identities and orientations remain marginalised and vulnerable in this country. The same hegemonies that denied them their rights in a pre-democratic South Africa are still the root causes of their disempowerment. I proposed that during Apartheid the preservation of white, Western, heterosexual male domination (political, social and economic) was a main priority and that strategic mass media communication (―the media‖) played a significant role in protecting and maintaining such dominance. This role continues in different guises in South Africa in an era of globalisation. Globalised strategic Christian mass media communication, such as transnational religious broadcasting, is one example. My study of how gender is mediated in samples of North American televangelism that exhibits a profile in a South African constitutional democracy, was theoretically framed through intersectional, decolonial feminist lenses. In this regard I took a pan-African stance. I did Comprehensive Critical Rhetorical Discourse Analysis (CCRDA) to examine three DVD teachings each of the African American New Evangelical/Fundamentalist televangelists Bishop T.D. Jakes and Prophetess Juanita Bynum. This situated my enquiry within an ethico-political paradigm. The intersection between media/strategic mass media communication (―the media‖), religion and gender was investigated in an interdisciplinary fashion as I drew from, and built on, media and communication, gender and feminist, theological, and political science theories. I identified and deconstructed the themes in their content and the rhetorical processes and methodologies that Jakes and Bynum apply in their messaging. I then investigated how their communication challenges or upholds hegemonies that fuel gender power imbalances. My analysis revealed that both televangelists construct gender in a fashion that justifies and maintains various manifestations of hegemonic dominance. Their use of specific communication biasing frames and other methods reinforce the ideological content of their rhetoric, obstructing the potentially transformative power of the South African Constitution. In order to address these problems I proposed that such globalised mainstream New Evangelical/Fundamentalist televangelism is an imperialist tool used for the re-colonisation of the religious convictions of African Christians. It should be recognised that in a New Media Age, transnational electronic churches have, in their reach, become omnipresent. They have the potential to manufacture consensus around harmful beliefs, values, norms and practices that hamper gender equality and justice and ―radical‖ reconciliation in South Africa. It is my argument that such ―media‖ constitutes sanctification communication. This term refers to strategic religious communication that is distributed in a purposeful fashion and carries mediated messaging that originates from authoritative figures. As the interpretations therein is ―sanctified‖ through an association with the divine, it has enhanced value and thus power. The sanctification communication in question is combatant and defensive and has a political agenda. It should be critically engaged as an enlistment and mobilisation tool for a global fundamentalist Christian movement that challenges human rights.