The Rise of Protestant Evangelism in Ecuador, 1895-1990

Synopsis

North American fundamentalist Protestants of all denominations and categories increasingly have journeyed to Latin America to proselytize and convert its people. Clearly, Alvin M. Goffin writes, they have been successful. He also concludes in this case study of one underdeveloped country that Protestant evangelistic activity in Ecuador has done more harm than good. While the Catholic church traditionally has dominated religious matters in Ecuador, Protestant groups - principally fundamentalists from North America - gained a foothold late in the nineteenth century. Goffin traces their growth in the context of nationalism, imperialism, religious tolerance, and cultural hegemony. Although he acknowledges some positive aspects of their influence, he argues that foreign-based Protestant groups contributed to the dissolution of indigenous cultures; that they have exploited the natural environment; and that they have often failed to promote social justice or offer relief for long-standing conditions of poverty. If,current growth rates continue, Goffin argues, Latin America may well have a Protestant majority by the early twenty-first century. Making Ecuador a metaphor for the region, Goffin suggests that the country can be considered a laboratory from which to study religious practice throughout Latin America.