chapter  2
16 Pages

Pentecostals, Politics, and Public Space in Latin America

ByMichael Dodson

As early as the 1960s researchers Emilio Willems and Christian Lalive d'Epinay recognized the degree to which Pentecostalism had become an established, popular religion in Latin America. Willems studied both the historical Protestant churches and Pentecostals, offering systematic comparisons between the two types of churches on a range of issues. The present trend toward democratization in Latin America has had an interesting effect on scholarship. A theorist who has been adduced infrequently with regard to Latin America, Alexis de Tocqueville, may be helpful in exploring the possible interrelation of Pentecostalism and politics in time of transition. Optimism about Pentecostalism's potential for positive contributions to civil and political society in Latin America is relatively rare. Everett Wilson's study of the Liceo Cristiano, an extensive system of private schools established in El Salvador by the Centre Evangelistico, demonstrates vividly the extent to which Pentecostals have begun to fill the public space with social works, even in weakly developed civil society countries.