chapter  10
22 Pages

The Sound of Tambourines: The Politics of Pentecostal Growth in El Salvador*

WithPhilip J. Williams

On a typical Thursday evening in Mejicanos, San Salvador, evangelicos throughout the city are glorifying God to the sound of tambourines and electric guitars. Beneath the civil war and economic disparity, a revolution of sorts has been taking place. This revolution has manifested itself not only in the dramatic growth of Pentecostal churches but also in the expansion of Catholic charismatic groups and the resurgence of base communities. Scholars of religion and politics in Latin America have been turning their attention to Pentecostalism. Studies of Pentecostalism in Central America also dispute the view that Pentecostals are capable of moving from symbolic protest to a more structural challenge of the traditional social order. The Pentecostal churches were an especially appealing option for poor women, first of all, they offered women consolation and solidarity. Pentecostals were much less likely than base-community members to participate in political parties, trade unions, and neighborhood associations.