Journal for the Study of Religion

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Patterns of consumption and materialism among Zimbabwean Christians: A tale of two indigenous churches

Josiah Taru, Federico Settler


This article critically considers the role of religion in relation to patterns of consumption among members of two indigenous churches in Zimbabwe. Through an examination of their distinct theological orientations toward modernity and the accumulation of wealth, we set out to understand religion and materialism in the postcolonial context. Our analysis and findings are based on extended observation and interviews conducted in two indigenous churches in Zimbabwe between 2011 and 2013. We contend that despite their common theological heritage in the protestant ethics and its bible-centred dogma, the United Family International Church and the Johanne Marange Church have in the postcolonial context, each forged distinct theological and ecclesiastical understandings of their relation to consumption and materialism not only shape their members’ patterns of consumption, but also raises critical questions about what constitutes religion in the postcolonial context.

Keywords: Materialism, Commodification, Postcolonial, Consumption

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