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Pentecostal presence, power and politics in Latin America

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Prior to the 1980s political scientists had by and large dismissed religion as a determinant of political behaviour. Yet sociologists and political scientists were forced to re-evaluate secularisation theories in light of various events on the geopolitical stage involving religion throughout that decade. Significant among these was the explosion of Pentecostalism across Latin America in the 1980s, leading to a boom in academic research keen to explore the social and political impact of this phenomenon. This article traces the rise and identifies the various expressions of Latin American Pentecostalism, together with its political responses across the continent, arguing that perceptions of Latin American Pentecostalism as homogenous and inherently conservative lack nuance and indeed are essentially flawed. In fact, Latin American Pentecostal political responses are diverse, depending on circumstance, Pentecostal expression, country or region, and demographics.
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Keywords: Latin America; Pentecostalism; politics; religion; society

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: King's Evangelical Divinity School and Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Lampeter, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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