Master's Theses

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Martin Woessner

Second Advisor

Marlene Clark

Keywords

Pentecostalism, neoliberalism, megachurch, Puerto Rico, Chile and Pinochet, American-Latinos

Abstract

The most prominent and influential feature of worldwide Evangelicalism, is the megachurch. In Latin America megachurches have proliferated and grown in political influence when they first came into contact with neoliberalism during Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. As Latin America's poor first migrated out of rural areas into Latin American cities, then north, to the United States, they have brought with them their religion. Increasingly, this religion is Protestant, evangelical, and for many, it is Pentecostalism. Misunderstood by the early literature on Pentecostalism, is the strain of neoliberalism that has become infused in the religion's most powerful institution - the megachurch. My thesis begins by re-examine the early literature of Latin American Pentecostals in Chile, and trace the changes in the religion that were missed. Then a case study of Puerto Rico is presented, in order to lay bare how megachurches changed in the 1990s. Lastly, as Latino migration increases into the United States, the current political climate will provide the backdrop for how American megachurches have themselves changed, and are being influenced by Latinos. The lessons that Latin America can teach us about the connection between neoliberalism and religion, we, in the United States, are only now just beginning to appreciate.

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