Pentecostalism and South America's Social Movements
Written by Raúl Zibechi, Wednesday, 15 October 2008
In several Latin American social movements a new reading is emerging of the role being played by Pentecostal churches in poor urban neighborhoods and their political consequences.
"Pentecostalism is the largest self-organized movement of urban poor in the world," according to the U.S. urban specialist Mike Davis. His opinions on this religious movement tend to be rejected outright by many leftist intellectuals. However, Davis is convinced that "many people on the left have made the mistake of assuming that Pentecostalism is a reactionary force—and it's not."
Davis is not just being provocative. He is opening minds to conduct research without ideological prejudices and to view reality based on the people's needs. He explains that among the urban poor in Latin America, Pentecostalism is a religion of women that produces real material benefits. "Women who join the church, and who can get their husbands to join with them, often see significant increases in their standard of living: the men are less likely to drink, or whore, or gamble all their money away."
We should add that it also decreases domestic violence. Davis believes that one of the great attractions of Pentecostalism is that "it's a kind of para-medicine." The health of the poor is in permanent crisis and can destabilize their lives, wherever neoliberalism has devastated state health services, and the prices of medicines are sky high. He states that in peripheral areas Pentecostals have been successful in curing alcoholism, neuroses, and obsessions. With some irony, he defines it as a kind of "spiritual health delivery system."
Y el epicentro por el futuro del cristianismo en el mundo se vive en Brasil, el país con el mayor número a la vez de católicos y pentecostales en todo el planeta. Lean todo el artículo, para entender mejor el cambio de poder religioso que se avecina en América Latina.