Private Power or Public Power: Pentecostalism, Base Communities, and Gender*
Most research has focused on how Pentecostals use their power in the public realm of politics and economics. Less attention has focused on their impact on power in the private realm of gender attitudes and roles. This chapter examines the ways in which Pentecostalism may affect women's gender attitudes and roles. It examines whether Pentecostalism fosters women's empowerment in either the public or the private sphere. It contrasts Pentecostals' experiences with those of women in Catholic Christian base communities (comunidades eclesiales de base—CEBs), often considered the Pentecostals' opposites and competitors for the souls of the poor. The contrast is instructive, because it shows that although neither religious group set out explicitly to change gender roles or attitudes, both actually do so, albeit in strikingly different ways. Moreover, the evidence is not from a single systematic comparison but from studies of Pentecostals and CEBs throughout the region, some of which only tangentially address gender issues.