“Come with Us and You Will Be Saved”: Religious Conversions and Healing among Roma Pentecostal Converts

Markéta Doležalová


Conversions to Pentecostal Christianity have become a widespread phenomenon among Roma in Europe in recent decades. This paper looks at how the experiences of biomedicine
and suffering from a life-threatening condition are interpreted through religion. The diagnosis of a serious illness can lead one to experience his or her body as being unreliable. At the same time, biomedical treatment can also be experienced as unreliable and unpredictable.Religious conversion and religious practices, such as prayer and religious healing, may lead to an inner change that aid the converts in finding ways to re-conceptualise the relationship of the self to the wider social world and the meaning of their experience. Participation in Pentecostal
Christian life through daily practice and a sense of belonging to a shared Christian community can contribute to the process of healing in the sense of creating a new and meaningful way of
being. Conversion to Pentecostal Christianity and the adoption of its morality thus constitute a form of healing, not in the biomedical sense of reconstituting the body to its former state of
absence of disease, but in the sense of re-naming the condition of the convert and changing the meaning of the illness experience by working on the self.

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