Category: Latin America


Andrew Chesnut on Santa Muerte

The cult of Santa Muerte is one of the fastest growing religious movements in the Western Hemisphere, yet little scholarly attention has been paid to it. Prof. Andrew Chesnut of Virginia Commonwealth University discusses what this folk saint is, how it emerged historically and recently, and how devotions are practiced.

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Samuel Gregg on Pope Francis, Argentina, and Economics

Over his first four years in the Vatican, Pope Francis released two important encyclicals dealing, in part, with economic issues. Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute talks about the nature of Catholic social encyclicals, and the historical context of Argentina that influenced how Francis views economic issues.

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Christopher Hale on Religion & Protest in Mexico

Prof. Christopher Hale (U of Alabama) discusses how religion is connected to political protest in Mexico. Building upon some foundational work in the religious economies school, he explains how institutional decentralization and lay leadership fosters socio-economic activism. He also addresses the role of ideology and religious competition.

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Andrew Johnson on Pentecostals in Prison in Brazil

Life in prison can be quite difficult and violent, especially within the Brazilian penal system. Dr. Andrew Johnson at the Center for Religion & Civil Culture discusses his extremely innovative work on the role of Pentecostalism in Brazilian favelas and prison. His research had him actually living among inmates for several weeks in a Rio de Janeiro prison. We talk about the relationship that Pentecostals have with drug gangs with poor neighborhoods in Brazil and the role that religion plays within the cell block.

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Robert Woodberry on Missionaries and Democracy

Did Protestant missionaries help plant the seeds of democracy throughout the world? Prof. Robert Woodberry takes us on a historical tour-de-force around the globe showing how “conversionary Protestants” helped to promote literacy, spread printing technology, facilitate civic organization, defend religious and civil liberties, and protest the abuses of slavery and colonialism. We discuss how this happened and why Protestants were uniquely situated to do this, although we look at similar Catholic efforts in recent decades. We conclude with speculative thoughts about the Arab Spring.

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Margarita Mooney on Pope Benedict XVI & Cuba

We celebrate our 100th episode with return guest Margarita Mooney discussing Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to Cuba. We cover the religious landscape of this island nation since the 1959 revolution and the everyday hardships that both religious and non-religious people must endure, as well as the slow religious opening that has been occuring for the past two decades. Pope John Paul II’s visit is also discussed, but the majority of our discussion is reserved for the impact that Pope Benedict’s visit had on the Catholic faithful. Prof. Mooney details Benedict’s “Homily in Havana” and relates some vivid stories from people still living in Cuba.

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Sabine Hyland on Jesuits and Incans

Prof. Sabine Hyland of St. Norbert College reveals what happens when Jesuits meet Incans in the Peruvian highlands during the 16th century, with a particular focus on the mestizo priest Blas Valera. Our conversation corrects some of the longstanding misconceptions of the role of religion during the Spanish Conquest, as well as misunderstandings about Incan religions. We also chat about how scholars and religious organizations deal with different cultures they encounter.

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Daniel Philpott on Religious Resurgence & Democratization

Is the global resurgence in public religiosity over the past 40 years linked in any way to the increase in democratic governance over the same period of time? Prof. Dan Philpott (Notre Dame) covers the historical trends of church-state relations and discusses how changes in political theologies and the increasing independence of religious organizations have provided a fertile ground for political democratization in some corners of the world. We examine how and why some religious traditions have been involved in promoting democracy under authoritarian conditions. Our discussion turns toward some speculation about the future of the “Arab Spring” at the end of our interview. This is the first part of a discussion of the book “God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.”

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Ruth Melkonian on Latin American Protestants

Prof. Ruth Melkonian surveys the history of Protestantism in Latin America and examines whether evangelicals and Pentecostals in the region share the same political views as their U.S. brethren or whether they appear more similar to non-evangelicals in Latin America. She reveals that Latin American Protestants are more similar to their non-Protestant compatriots in the region than they are to their counterparts in the United States. We also discuss the issue of Latino immigration into the US and how evangelical leaders have viewed this phenemonenon.

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Roger Finke on Religious Persecution

Roger Finke of Penn State University talks with Tony about the prevalence and reasons for religious persecution around the globe. We explore the connectcions between seemingly small violations of religious liberty and religious persecution. Prof. Finke further argues that even small violations of religious liberty can presage greater threats to a wider set of civil liberties. Our discussion covers all regions of the globe, with a focus on Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Russia, France and the United States.

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