Competitive Spirits: Latin America's New Religious Economy

By R. Andrew Chesnut | Go to book overview

1
Introduction
The New Temples of
Religious Pluralism

Latin America's religious revolution continues to radically transform the spiritual economy of the most Catholic region in the world. In my previous study of the Pentecostal boom in Brazil, I argued that Charismatic Protestantism is remaking the socioreligious landscape of Latin America. Since the proliferation of Pentecostalism among the popular classes of Ibero-America was my exclusive focus, I was unable to capture the full magnitude of the religious revolution. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Pentecostalism continues at the vanguard of Latin America's religious revolution, but now it is supported by a corps of Charismatic believers that has played less visible but nonetheless pivotal roles in the historic transformation of the religious economy of the region. Thus, while Pentecostal churches, such as the Assemblies of God (AD) and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD), continue to be the main architects of the new religious landscape, a new generation of non-Pentecostal spiritual entrepreneurs has emerged to join in the demolition of the edifice of religious monopoly and to begin construction of the myriad temples of religious pluralism.

Of even greater social, political, and religious significance than the recent Pentecostal boom is Latin America's historic transformation from a monopolistic religious economy to an unregulated one in which faith-based organizations, like commercial firms, compete for religious consumers. 1 In the new free market of faith, Latin Americans are at liberty to choose among the hundreds of religious products that best suit their spiritual and material needs. After four centuries of religious monopoly in which the main choice for the popular classes

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Competitive Spirits: Latin America's New Religious Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents *
  • Competitive Spirits *
  • 1 - The New Temples of Religious Pluralism 3
  • 2 - Four Centuries of Religious Monopoly 17
  • 3 - An Anatomy of Pentecostal Success 39
  • 4 - The Catholic Charismatic Renewal 64
  • 5 - Religions of the African Diaspora 102
  • 6 - The Success of Pneumacentric Religion among Women 128
  • 7 - Ex Uno Plura (out of One, Many) 147
  • Notes 161
  • References 165
  • Index 171
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