Original Research

Abuse, power and discourse in the public trial of Timothy Omotoso

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Maria Frahm-Arp
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2270 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2270 | © 2022 Mookgo S. Kgatle, Maria Frahm-Arp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 April 2021 | Published: 17 May 2022

About the author(s)

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Maria Frahm-Arp, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Exposure of gender-based violence (GBV) has recently received attention from both scholars and the public. However, GBV within Christian discourse, and specifically as it occurs among pastors of the new Prophetic Pentecostal Churches (PPC), is yet to be explored in detail. This article begins to address this research gap by highlighting the difficulty of proving sexual and spiritual abuse in a secular court of law, as shown in the public trial of Timothy Omotoso. The study uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) as the methodology to examine aspects of the trial and the social media discourse commenting on the trial. In doing so, the article highlights three different discourses surrounding the Zondi trial, namely the discourse of GBV in Pentecostalism; the secular legal discourse and how it reshapes faith, spirituality and the abuse of believers; and the public trial victims endure on social media if they chose to come forward to testify against a church leader. By examining these discourses, the study shows how each of these need to be taken seriously and should inform pastoral care given to victims who experienced GBV by Christian leaders. Using the findings from Zondi’s testimony, this article proposes a framework of pastoral care that can support people who experience GBV within a Christian context and consider bringing their abusers to trial.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is an interface between GBV and Pentecostalism in a public trial of Timothy Omotoso through CDA. The article proposes a pastoral care as a remedy for those undergoing trauma of abuse.


Keywords

abuse; power; Timothy Omotoso; Cheryl Zondi, critical discourse analysis; Pentecostalism

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