Documentary on Christianity in Africa to Screen Nov. 14

Award-winning filmmaker and author James Ault will introduce his project and lead a discussion at UC Riverside

James Ault

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Filmmaker James Ault will screen his documentary “African Christianity Rising: Stories from Ghana” at UC Riverside on Monday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. The film is the first of a two-part series about the explosive rise of Christianity in Africa.

Ault will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward. “African Christianity Rising” will screen in Interdisciplinary Building Room 1128. The film is free and open to the public. Parking costs $5.

“World Christianity is undergoing a major global shift,” explained Jennifer Scheper Hughes, assistant professor of religious studies and organizer of the event. “It is on the decline in much of Europe and the United States, but it is growing faster than ever in the Global South. Christianity is now one of the largest religions in Africa, with almost 400 million Christians and almost 12,000 denominations. This film explores this dramatic and unprecedented rise of African Christianity.”

Ault and his crew shot more than 300 hours of film in Ghana and Zimbabwe. The project was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation.

Christianity’s explosive growth in Africa was totally unexpected at the dawn of independence from colonial rule, Ault said in describing the two-part film series on his website.

Scene from "African Christianity Rising."

“It is part of a startling reversal in world history,” he explained. “Christianity is no longer the religion of the West. Over two-thirds of the world’s Christians now live in the global South — with Africa growing the fastest — and all signs point to this trend continuing. We are turning a page in world history. What does it mean? What is Christianity becoming, and what new, perhaps surprising, developments will it foster?”

The series explores, among other themes, how Christianity has become increasingly popular by becoming more African, he said. For example, Christianity in Africa emphasizes healing and dancing as spiritual discipline. The film features leading African theologians and stories from mission-founded, old independent (or “spiritual”) and Pentecostal/charismatic churches.

Ault’s first film, “Born Again: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church,” won a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS, and around the world. His book on that project, “Spirit and Flesh” (Knopf 2004), was named one of the five best nonfiction books of the year by the Christian Science Monitor.

The screening of “African Christianity Rising” is sponsored by the UCR Department of Religious Studies and co-sponsored by the departments of Anthropology, and Media and Cultural Studies, and the Center for Ideas and Society.

For more information contact Hughes at or (951) 827-2538.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Jennifer Scheper Hughes
Tel: (951) 827-2538

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