CONFLICT AND COMPETITION: The Latin American Church in a Changing Environment
edited by Edward L. Cleary / Hannah Stewart-Gambino

CHAPTER 9    =================================
Evangelicals and Competition in Guatemala
======================================   EDWARD L. CLEARY

   The election of Jorge Serrano Elías, an evangelical Protestant, as president of Guatemala and the active involvement of evangelicals in Peru in presidential politics shocked many observers. Are evangelical Protestants numerous enough in Latin America to feel that they could affect national politics? And why are they in politics, anyway? Latin American evangelicals had been assumed to be nothing but otherworldly and to care only about their own members.

   Characterization of Protestants in Latin America are numerous and often misleading.(1) Stereotypes of Protestantism derived from North America or from Latin American prejudices about Protestants obstruct the view of what has been occurring. Evangelical Protestant religion, often with an independent nationalistic character, has surged mightily in Latin America, and the consequences for Latin Americans and those who deal with Latin America are worth considering.

   In this chapter I attempt to show that what is taking place in Guatemala is neither simply the expansion of Protestant religion nor losses by the Catholic church but a reorganization of religion that cuts across organizational lines in response to structural changes. Religion grows or declines or reshapes itself in a context of changing socioeconomic conditions and political arrangements. As I describe this context at the outset, my primary focus remains that of the growth of Protestantism in Guatemala, and of how it poses the possibility of conflict and competition for the Catholic church. But I emphasize that one cannot explain Protestantism without a parallel understanding of competing religious organizations -- Catholicism and native religions.(2)

   Guatemala is a vivid example illustrating an extreme case of the situation of Protestants in Latin America. Chile, Brazil, and Guatemala are the main sites for the growth of evangelical religion in Latin America. There Pentecostal Christians have grown in numbers to a much greater degree, but growth has been experienced in most Latin American countries. David Martin has described this expansion in Tongues of Fire, and David Stoll has written Is Latin America Turning Protestant?'(3) They and a number of others have attempted to offer general explanations for the rise of Protestantism. We shall see to what extent and how this has occurred in Guatemala.

Theoretical Framework

   Theorists of sociology and anthropology built a general theory of modernization in which societies such as Guatemala would be transformed into increasingly complex entities. In this view, such processes as bureaucratization, urbanization, industrialization, and secularization are active in producing a complex, modern society. Secularization would affect religion, bringing about religion's demise (most Western intellectuals have anticipated the death of religion)(4) or at least its being pushed to the margins of society.(5) Some European theologians, in response to such thinking, began to sacralize the secular, one of them even calling for worship through work on Sunday.

   Modernity and religion as mutually exclusive thus became the simplest way of formulating a maj or paradigm in the sociology of religious phenomena in Western societies. Nowhere was the paradigm thought to have greater relevance for formerly Catholic countries than France.(6) Empirical studies of French Catholics confirmed the decline of religion as inevitable in a society in which modernization is an ongoing process, and this type of research "formed the backbone of research in the sociology of religions until the late 1960s."(7)

   Such a view has been called into question by analysts(8) and by careful historical and field research along various lines, including popular religion, invisible religion, and new rehgkus movements.(9) The theoretical shift in France -- and the perspective I adopt here -- leads to a view of secularization not as a decline of religion in the modern world but as a process of reorganization of the work of religion in a society, a process whereby religion restructures itself to meet the challenges brought on by socioeconomic changes.

   David Martin in expanding his theoretical conceptions of secularization allows for the possibility that Catholics and Protestants may be at play in the field of religion in developing countries, finding their own way and reorganizing themselves to fit changing circumstances.(10) Other theorists, such as Daniel Levine, also have been delving into popular movements in developing countries in attempts to explain comunidades de base and other revitalization movements (or, greater lay participation) especially at the grassroots in contemporary Catholicism.(11)

   Levine and others point to the larger social processes taking place in Latin American (and presumably in other modernizing) countries and note specific factors -- agrarian concentration, large-scale migration, improved transport, expanded literacy, and access to media -- as combining to undermine long-standing ties between elites and masses. "Popular sectors were then made available for new kinds of organization and experimentation."(12) Massive social movements affect especially (but not only) lower classes among which both evangelical religion and basic Christian communities flourish.

   The approach taken here is a historical-structural one.(13) It points to class formation and reformation and economic conditions that allow individuals to transfer allegiances from one group to another (as from Catholic or historical Protestant churches to evangelical Christian and sect churches) and new sets of behaviors within groups (such as empowerment of individuals previously largely passive). Such an approach does not allow one to specify why any particular person joins a particular church or assumes for the first time in his or her life a leadership position in a church. But as Eckstein says, the approach accounts "for the conditions that prompt groups of people, in the aggregate, to act as they do."(14)

   A historical-structural approach furnishes a more ample view of Guatemalan religion and society than do most publications on Protestantism in Guatemala (or Latin America, for that matter), which emphasize descriptions and analyses of religion as denominations or sects with little more than their own organizational histories. By contrast, a structural approach provides illumination of the larger religious picture and the class dynamics that are reshaping social and religious relationships.

   Several theories for the expansion of Protestantism in Latin America have been advanced.(15) Publications began giving prominent attention to the massive flow of resources -- missionaries, money and goods, and television programming (Jimmy Swaggart, especially) -- to Guatemala. These publications pointed to a purported conspiracy between the "religious right" in the United States and conservative elements, including the military, in Guatemala to promote a particular kind of law-and-order Protestantism and to stem the influence of progressive Catholicism.(16) In contrast, the explanation offered here emphasizes endogenous factors -- socioeconomic and religious changes withn the country -- as more appropriate for assessing influences on religious conversion, but acknowledges exogenous influences as well. (Many Catholics are believed to have identified themselves as evangelicos to escape torture or death.)

   Thus, I attempt to highlight the changing social and economic conditions of Guatemalan society in this century that facilitated religious change. These changes, which are extensively documented especially by many superior anthropologists,(17) are easier to highlight for rural areas, but find an intensified counterpart in life in cities.

Socioeconomic Changes

Rural Society

   A major factor in (and part of the traditional explanation for) the expansion of evangelicals in Guatemala was, as Hubert Miller remarks, "the Catholic church's failure to develop a native clergy and an adequate number of clergy to minister to its flock. This situation provided a favorable environment in which evangelicals could work and gain converts. This was particularly true in rural areas where the clerical dearth was most obvious."(18)

   The Catholic church in Guatemala suffered more than any other national church in Latin America prolonged debilitation at the hands of anticlerical liberals. John Lloyd Mecharn noted that Guatemala presented a unique case in that anticlerical laws persisted so long without change.(19)

   As far as can be gathered from oral and written histories and apart from an occasional evangelical pastor or Catholic priest, very little outside religious influence penetrated traditional Indian communities in Guatemala for a rather lengthy period, from at least the 1910s to middle 1940s. These communities were mostly free of direct Catholic control and could devote themselves to life within a Christo-pagan religious organization.(20) Maryknoll missionaries who went to Guatemala in the early 1940s reported no priests resident in rural areas of Huehuetenango or San Marcos.(21) During the Guatemalan revolutionary period (1945-1954), only three priests were ordained, and the ratio of Catholics to priests stood at 16,039 to 1.(22)

   Changes in Guatemalan rural society have been noteworthy: First, modern capitalist relations of production expanded, dislocating traditional peasants and freeing peasants from ties that bound them to established ways and institutions. Second, increases in population greatly aggravated the problems of subsistence from agriculture for many farmers and pushed and pulled them into migration and into different economic arrangements. Third, a social awakening began in the Indian population.

   The timing (but not the occurrence) of these changes is open to speculation. David McCreery, an economic historian, places the structural changes (the effects of which may not have shown up fully until later) as early as the 1870s. The system before that time largely depended on traditional Indian communities for training a work force and for taking care of workers during the off-seasons or when they became sick or ill.(23) After 1920, growers of coffee for an export market relied increasingly on "free labor." For a long time, economists and anthropologists have described the increases in seasonal labor migration from highland communities to work on the coffee plantations on the Pacific coast.(24) The work was disagreeable, especially in terms of disruption of community life and customs, and not well remunerated. Given the marginal appeal of the work, Guatemalan governments supported efforts to force Indians to work periodically in coffee and sugar harvests on the coastal plantations.

   Demand for seasonal work remained strong, except for a hiatus during the 1930s and 1940s as Gumemala's large growers diversified crop production, emphasizing cotton through the 1950s and 1960s. This ensured continued demand for a seasonal work force, largely supplied by Indian community members. By the early 1970s, Guatemala's export sector was booming and outperformed that of most other Latin American countries. Thus, for decades economic market forces and government pressures brought external and effective forces for changes in life patterns and loyalties, including to native religion, within Indian communities.

   Guatemala's population increased from 3 million to 5.6 million from 1950 to 1973. This growth brought greater divisions in land, as the average size of farms in Guatemala from 1950 to 1970 dropped from 8.1 to 5.6 heectares. In the western and central highlands, the situation grew even more acute: By 1975, the average size of a farm unit decreased to 0.85 hecare per person.(25) More farmers became landless, and about a fourth of the rural work force at this time were counted as not owning land.

   Large landowners, with profits increasingly assured, sought more land. Latifundia owners proceeded at a greater pace to incorporate Indian village land, often cheaply and frequently fraudulently. This increased local underemployment and forced families into less productive lands or left them without access to self-sustaining land resources.(26) Growers also applied increasing amounts of land to export production. Guatemala found itself importing staples, such as corn and beans. Both forces, population and export economies, squeezed peasant families: more persons to feed in the community, more persons to work the communal land, less land available.(27)

   The internal problems brought on by economic and social changes increased through the years in the Indian communities of highland Guatemala. Among these stresses were private ownership of land where communal use was the norm, increasing class formation within villages, alienation of resources to outsiders, declining productivity, and overcropping. These problems strongly affected the personal lives of community members, raising questions of personal identity and emotional security previously assured by community life and religion practiced therein. The connections between economic and religious change become clearer at the grassroots level. Sheldon Annis, in attempting to explain the change to Protestantism in Guatemala, emphasizes the "bombardment of twentieth-century forces" fracturing the cultural equilibrium of communities in the Guatemalan highlands.(28) These forces affect the

community's very idea of self-who people think they are, what they think their community is and means. It is this change that has opened a new receptivity to Protestantism.... Such receptivity, I believe, begins with the stresses and strains that are pulling apart the milpa-based economy.... Most milpa farmers now find themselves under pressure. Individually they have less land and more dependents than ever, so making a living A harder and harder. On the other hand, for a significant minority, things are getting better.
    Taken together, these two trends mean that wealth and class differentiation are rising. This undercuts the traditional cultural equilibrium, which was based on social egalitarianism (or at least the assumption of shared poverty). Protestantism finds fertile ground for converts among those who are alienated from the traditional economy. To those who are economically marginalized by abject poverty or socially marginalized by increased entrepreneurial activity, Protestantism says: "Come to me."(29)

   Annis further suggests that at the heart of motivation for conversion lies "the desire to tame what is feared to be out of control."

   By at least the late 1950s, anthropologists noted that the imputed closed character of many indigenous communities had changed drastically, affected by the factors just mentioned. Most drastically changed was the civil-religious cargo system.(30) Men and their families in highland communities participated in an indigenous politico-religious system of offices and associated burdens, or cargos. As persons advanced in the system, they contributed more of their resources, notably wealth, to religious celebrations, receiving prestige in return. This system had the effect of redistributing wealth in the communities and of often siphoning small surpluses from Indians to wealthier Ladinos.(31)

   Within these changing life patterns, early on, in the 1930s and 1940s, Pentecostal Protestant leaders began work in Indian communities.(32) Contemporary Catholic influence in the central and western highlands largely came after the penetration by Pentecostals. Catholic priests typically began working in different communities from where Pentecostals had made inroads, but were affected by much the same economic and social forces impinging on other native communities. Resistance to Catholic priests by the mostly Indian population in the rural areas was strong at least in the 1940s and 1950s. Kelly, for example, notes the "abundance of indifference" on the part of Ladinos and "great deal of superstition" among the Indian population."(33) As late as 1959, the bishop of Quezaltenango had to have recourse to military authorities to avoid mass rioting by Indians who would not cede the local church to a priest in Olintepeque. Five years later, the priest, Father James Flaherty, was able to take up residence peacefully in the community.(34)

   Gradual openness to missionaries, both Catholic and evangelical, must be understood "in terms of strains that had developed within the traditional order as a result of population growth and economic changes."(35) Religious entrepreneurs thus find the door open to meet displaced religious demands with a religion more adequate to changing life conditions.

   Economic conditions and religion in rural areas intermingled in the case of Catholicism, as they had for Pentecostals. As the disintegration of Guatemalan traditional social ties and economic organization occurred, new marketing arrangements became possible. Cooperatives and credit unions began appearing in Guatemalan small farming areas, introduced by Catholic missionaries (at this time principally Maryknoll and Sacred Heart missioners) in the late 1950s and 1960s. Within a ten-year period, 145 agricultural, consumer, and credit cooperatives carried on business in the country, with 27,000 members. Ten years later, 510 cooperatives operated in the country, with membership up to 132,000. Davis reports that cooperatives were having a major impact on Indian political attitudes, marketing strategies, and agricultural techniques.(36) One should note that here religious influence was both proactive and reactive. These changes in marketing strategies and other economic arrangements that tended to cut out or reduce the influence of Ladino brokers and overseers were looked on poorly by non-Indians. Adams notes the "conquest-ridden psychology that still persists," pointing out that "efforts by Indians to negotiate the economic and political rules of the game are seen as seditious."(37)

   Also occurring within reformed Catholicism,(38) especially in the areas of Quiché and Huehuetenango, was the formation of catechists and Catholic Action members, In the Huehuetenango region and throughout Latin America, Maryknoll and other missionaries emphasized catechists as bridges (one reason being that missionaries often lacked fluency in native languages) to native cultures and as a way to extend the influence of the church where priests were scarce and native priests virtually unknown. In the Quiché area, Spanish missionaries also sought to make as many of the adult laity as possible active in contemporary Catholicism through Catholic Action. Thousands of Indians in the region became members, thereby further disrupting patterns within traditional communities, especially with respect to conflicts about traditional religious observances and the economic consequences of diminished participation.

   By the middle and late 1970s, a political awakening was occurring among the Indians. Ricardo Falla described one area of his study of a movement of religion conversion by Catholics rebellious against traditional religious beliefs; Kay Warren carried on a masterful study of the change in religious symbolism from traditional Indian religion to contemporary Catholicism and the resulting conflicts.(39) Indians who acted as leaders, teachers, and organizers in modern economic and religious organizations had self-perceptions different from those of leaders in traditional institutions: They held active views of what Indians might accomplish in Guatemalan society, developed more direct ties with other Indian leaders, and began speaking about greater political participation in Guatemalan society than Indians were accustomed to express. Brintnall wrote about Aguacatán, Huehuetenango, in 1976: "Previously repressed hostilities against the Ladinos are now receiving open and politically concrete expression.(40)

   The extensive changes affecting rural life accelerated in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In these times of great flux, an act of God occurred. A massive earthquake shook Guatemala in 1976 and left devastation that touched many Guatemalan lives. The homeless, the unemployed, and the widowed and orphaned often suffered loss or loosening of customary economic and social arrangements and meaning by which they lived.

   A great wave of repression followed in the wake of these changes. A full explanation of this reaction is too lengthy to detail here, but key to this discussion are the societal disruptions and the religious movements that were a part of the 1980s. Up to a million Guatemalans (in a population of eight million) found themselves dispIced; WnWt mostly adult workers, died; and more than 250,000 fled the country.(41) Forced settlement of many Indians into strategic hamlets and into obligatory service in civil patrols exacerbated the disruptions of community and religious life. No other Latin American country has undergone similar changes on the same scale and in such a relatively brief period. The dislocations of many persons from ties to local communities and the reforging of personal relations, including religious ones, opened the way to renegotiation of allegiances to traditional institutions.

Urban Society

   Guatemala's character as a rural country has been changing; more than 40 percent of the population is now urbanized.(42) Although Protestants are well represented in both urban and rural areas, as alleqed by the large number of Protestant church buildings that have sprung up seemingly everywhere in Guatemala, historically in major Latin American growth areas, such as Brazil and Chile, Protestantism has had a disproportionate growth in urbanizing areas. Emilio Willems attributes this urban growth of Protestantism to both protest against social inequalities and a reaction to disorganizing aspects of urban life.(43)

   Guatemala City as the dominant metropolis has grown from 600,000 to 2 million inhabitants in thirty years. In large part this growth occurred through large-scale migration from rural areas. Some of the migrants brought Protestant convictions with them, but almost all migrants faced the same challenges. This influx from the campo was not accompanied by proportionate growth of stable urban employment or of urban services. New immigrants found themselves scrambling for regular employment, affordable housing, and networks of friends and associates with whom to interact. The numbers of persons within Guatemala City and its environs seeking new social and economic ties over the last three decades taxed the urban planning capacity of Guatemalan civic leaders. At the same time, many evangelical pastors saw opportunities for conversions at these critical life points of the migrants.

   In Guatemala City the high rates of mobility, lack of stable employment, and few emergency resources made the social or economic bases for enduring associations among migrating families difficult to sustain. Although what Bryan Roberts calls the "more formal" Protestant groups (such as Lutherans and Methodists) did not typically maintain branches in neighborhoods, the less formal Pentecostal groups expanded everywhere in Guatemala City, kept their doors open, and maintained a high degree of accessibility to the networks of relations within which new members became encapsulated. These churches involve members actively in the life of the group and helped to form these very networks; ministries of many kinds are delegated, and participation in work of various kinds is expected of members, almost from the very beginning. Tasks and offices are thus divided up, teamwork is developed, and lively interaction is stimulated. Lonely persons without clear meaning or direction in their lives find new purpose. They also find status, occupying a position within the group, even though less status is often afforded them in secular life.

   Bryan Roberts' study of Guatemala City in the 1960s helps explain the attraction and mechanics of Protestant groups.(44) In contrast to the neighborhood Catholic churches that then did not offer stability in social relations, Protestant groups provided such stability, which aided individuals in the day-to-day problems of coping with life in a large city without kin or friendship that marked their lives in villages and towns. Belonging to a moral community attracts members and offers relations members can count on in a fragile and sometimes hostile environment. What Roberts noted in the 1960s became ever more common among the expanding evangelical groups in Guatemala City.

   The teaching of the groups and the demands they make fit well the current situation in Guatemala. Many of the groups emphasize the otherworldly aspects of Christianity. Suffering in this life matters little because considerations for the life to come dominate. The Bible read in a certain way prepares one for a series of disasters in this life. Dislocations from family and friends, earthquakes, political upheaval, and financial setbacks all have ready interpretations for people. Moreover, as Roberts notes, "sect doctrine also provides them practical means to alleviate dangers of economic insecurity."(45) Cutting out smoking and drinking and petty crime brings considerable savings or separates one from persons likely to lead to deviant behavior and facilitates positive self-presentation, noted by employers or customers. Such practices, changes in behavior for many former Catholics, would be short-lived without the doctrine of a community of believers, a remnant in a bad world, because key to changing behavioral patterns has been a community of supportive relationships and a sustained expectation of personal responsibility. The example of conversion to a sober or otherwise "successful" life has been a powerful magnet to others in the neighborhood to join evangelical groups.

   To summarize, changes in rural and urban society acted as social influences, outside the individual. First, persons who became converts had reached a crisis in their lives; some serious change in their environment had occurred. This, Lofland describes as a turning point; whatever they had done was disrupted, failet or completed.(46) Indigenous cargo religions or folk Catholicism lost their hold over their participants. Second, established group members forged strong affective bonds with new members. Third, the new members' previous ties and allegiances to groups were weakening; these ties became less and less attractive in the case of cargo religious obligations or weakened to virtual nonexistence for migrants to cities. Fourth, a period of intensive interaction with the new groups took place. Attention given to potential members in Pentecostal churches often enthralled them and forged long-standing friendship ties; entering Catholic Action, becoming a catechist, or joining a comunidad eclesial de base also offered new members intensive interaction with friends or colleagues.

Protestant Presence and Growth

   "The truth is, that before World War II, the Protestant presence was barely noticeable in Guatemalan society.(47) Such a statement by a prominent Guatemalan writer shows the difficulty of knowing what was going on in Guatemala during the first half of this century. Travel was difficult, telephones were almost nonexistent, and many groups, Catholics and Protestants, had little desire to communicate their findings with one another. In a word, information about Guatemala's social situation was fragmentary, and descriptions of religion tended to be one-dimensional and institutional. Twenty years after World War II, Richard Adams and his team of researchers made a first attempt at a study of Guatemalan society viewed on a grand scale.(48)

   A few desultory attempts were made by Protestant missionaries to enter Guatemala before the Presbyterians arrived in 1882, which marked the recognized beginning of Protestantism in Guatemala.(49) These attempts are not worth recounting except that the roving salesmen (colporteurs) who brought Protestant Bibles with them gave some Guatemalans contact with a world larger than their own and paved the way for others at least to satisfy curiosity about Christianity that was neither Catholic nor Christopagan.

   But if the Protestant presence was, on the surface, barely noticeable in terms of chapels, schools, and clinics, Protestantism nonetheless had gained a strong grounding in the country. By 1937 Kenneth Grubb reported that the evangelical community numbered 40,657 members (committed adults) in a population of 2.2 million.(50) Neither Mexico nor any other Central American country could match the achievement in Guatemala.

   Why growth in Guatemala thus became a question that a handful of churchpeople were discussing as early as the 1930s. There is nothing especially mysterious or miraculously sudden about evangelical growth in the country, although miraculous occurrences were recorded in the early days of the Guatemalan Pentecostals. Protestants had the door opened wide to them and only reluctantly responded to the invitation to come to Guatemala. One of the strongest leaders in Central American history, sometimes referred to as "El Patrón," Justo Rufino Barrios, like many of his contemporaries, was determined to keep the Catholic church out of the political space he and his Liberal Party wished to control.(51) Not only did he and other Liberal leaders of Guatemala manage to pass extremely limiting legislation against the Catholic church, making the restrictions stick much more effectively than most other Latin American liberals, well into the 1930s, but Barrios went personally to New York to solicit Presbyterian ministers to proselytize in Guatemala.(52)

   Barrios never left the Catholic church, but he helped obtain buildings at favorable terms for a Protestant school, sent his children to the school, and urged his ministers to do the same. Pablo Burgess, a chronicler who knew Barrios, wrote: "The fact, generally accepted by friends and enemies, is that it was General Barrios himself who brought Protestant missions to Guatemalans and has given them privileged position and a certain prestige that has greatly contributed to their success.(53)

   For a long time in its history, Protestantism was not missionary; it was reactionary to the Catholic church and conservative of its own resources. Protestant ministers in Latin America tended their own congregations, largely European in origin and English or German in language. As a missionary spirit began to bum in the hearts of Protestants in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a majority of worldwide mission leaders were able in 1908 to state that mission goals meant especially the Christianization of Asia and Africa. Latin America was considered by the majority at Edinburgh to be minimally Christian.

   Thus, the goal of evangelizing Latin Americans in Spanish and seeking converts among them is relatively new. And although Barrios and Liberal leaders removed many of the restrictions against Protestants and muzzled to some extent the Catholic church, they could do little to restrain discrimination against Protestants by persons who were culturally Catholic and were offended by the new preaching and foreign ways.

   Assertiveness marked the Protestant way to do things in Guatemala for two notable pioneers. Albert Edward Bishop entered Guatemala in 1899 as part of the Central American Mission. Bishop, then 38, had been a merchant in Abilene, Kansas, and he modified merchandising techniques for his long ministry in Guatemala. Within six years, Guatemalans would be hearing the message of Bishop and other Protestants in ways that were exceptional to most of Latin America. J. G. Cassel wrote in 1905 that in practically every town or village on the 140-mile trek from Guatemala City to San Marcos, one would find a Protestant adherent or someone friendly to Protestantism.(54)

   The aggressiveness of the Strachans was also exceptional. When Henry and Susanna Strachan came to Guatemala after sixteen years of work in Argentina, they were appalled at what they found in Central American Protestantism: a slow pace of conversions and a kind of inferiority complex. The remedy for this, they felt, had to be a more aggressive form of evangelism. Their work, which eventually became the Latin American Mission, foreshadowed the strong appeal of Billy Graham, Luis Palau, and Jimmy Swaggart in live and televised mass meetings in Latin America.

   Henry Strachan, of Scottish descent, and Susanna, of Irish, understood the values of a culture that fundamentally is oral, not literary, in orientation. As Allan Figueroa Deck and others have remarked, the Spaniards never succeeded in making Latin America a predominantly literate region.(55) This facet has been a great cultural obstacle for missionaries from the United States and a tradition of literacy. The Strachans, as few others, seemed to grasp intuitively the orality of Latin American culture. (Pentecostalism, especially evident in the televised preaching of Jimmy Swaggart, has exploited more fully than most other Christian religions this aspect of Guatemalan culture.)

   Between 1921 and 1934, the Strachans organized massive evangehzation campaigns in most of Spanish-speaking Latin America, including Guatemala.(56) The Strachans employed eloquent Spanish-speaking preachers of differing denominations, drawing wider support than previous sectarian efforts. Preachers appeared in theaters, tents, and the open air. The Strachans and their collaborators used music, fireworks, and posters to attract audiences. Latin Americans had seen nothing like this kind of public religious display. Hundreds of persons began professing evangelical religion, and many thousands heard for the first time the Protestant message. They were handfuls of people compared to the masses of persons in Latin America. But historians such as Wilton M. Nelson believe that these campaigns moved Protestantism in Central America through its inertia and started it on an era of modern growth that began in 1935.(57)

   The Presbyterians and Central American Mission built strong urban bases, but they emphasized rural work among Guatemalan Indians. Here the Catholic presence was weakest, and the challenge of reaching out to groups largely untouched by Christian evangelization was great. Central to missionaries from a literate missionary tradition was translation of the New Testament and eventually the whole Bible into Cakchiquel and other Meso-American languages. Cameron Townsend, working then with the Central American Mission, went on to help establish the Summer Institute of Linguistics/Wycliffe Bible Translation Society eventually found in many Latin American countries.(58)

Pentecostal Ascendancy

   In rural areas Pentecostal Christians, who have developed the greatest following among evangelicals in Guatemala and throughout most of Latin America, were quietly and effectively working. Within the changing life patterns of Indian communities, early on, in the 1930s and 1940s, Pentecostal Protestant leaders began work in Indian communities (an early influence many institutionally oriented histories of Protestantism ignore). Church of God leaders encouraged community members to reorganize their lives into evangelical congregations. As Everett Wilson notes, "Guided by assertive missionaries and aggressive local leaders, evangelical converts who represented the social elements most subject to dislocation arrogated effective control of their communities to themselves." So well did this early work progress that Pentecostalism became a vehicle of ethnic expression. (59) This was no sudden change, or "explosion," as some writers on Protestant phenomenon would have us believe.

   Pentecostals, once a very minor variant of world Protestantism, account for well over half of evangelicals in Guatemala. The largest of the church groups, the Assembly of God, reported 100,000 fully enrolled members. If one uses the multiplier of 2.5 currently favored by researcher Clifton Holland, then Assembly of God attendees are in excess of 250,000.(60) Their numbers are nearly matched by the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) and by two prominent Guatemalan churches that broke away from parent churches: Principe de Paz from the Assemblies of God and Elim from the Central American Mission.

   Churches began splintering notably in the 1960s and 1970s. Guatemalan pastors broke off and formed their own national churches, virtually all of them in the Pentecostal vein. It was an era of a neo-Pentecostal/charismatic spirit worldwide in which Catholic charismatics were forming a large contingent. The common denominators in these church divisions were Pentecostalism/neo-Pentecostalism and a desire to pull away from foreign leadership and to form something more Guatemalan.

   In Virginia Burnett's judgment, Protestantism failed to spread before the 1960s because "American missionaries presented the faith as a foreign belief system which offered little more than alienation to most Guatemalans.(61) She particularly faults the paternalistic leadership of the groups from the United States and their strong reliance on external works, such as schools. The older Pentecostal groups, in my view, did not share the same degree of foreign handicaps that Burnett mentions, nor does Wilson share Burnett's view of the early Pentecostals as becoming paternalistic and having thereby a negligible effect.(62) In the accounts of the early Pentecostal missionaries, indigenous leadership assumed central importance. Key to understanding the appeal of such groups, historian Wilson believes, is control over their own lives that Pentecostals felt religion bestowed on them.(63)

Character of Pentecostal Religion

   A major authority among Pentecostal scholars, Robert Mapes Anderson, describes Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity as centering "on the emotional, nonrational, mystical, and supernatural: miracles, signs, wonders, and the 'gifts of the Holy Spirit.' Supreme importance is attached to subjective religious experience of being filled with or possessed by the Holy Spirit."(64)

   The character of the main thrust of Protestant churches changed dramatically at this time. The newer Pentecostal movements (after 1960) in Guatemala, as the older ones, may be viewed as protesting against the formalistic, rationalistic, and increasingly secularizing trends of the mother non-Pentecostal churches. Pentecostal leaders, clergy and lay, came from the poor and lower-middle class groups, typically had little advanced education, and were, at the beginning, from the outermost fringes of Guatemalan society.

   The social background of Pentecostalism as it arose as a movement in the United States thus persisted in Guatemala. The groups involved in the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement in the United States included the poorest of the poor, black and white: tenant farmers, "hired help," and residents of the Appalachian "hollers." Further, many of the early preachers were black in predominantly white congregations. Virtually all the first pastors and evangelists lacked a higher education; they came from the same sources as their adherents.

   With this kind of social background, Pentecostals in Guatemala, as in the United States, were able to separate themselves at the beginning of the movement from the influences of the dominant social structure. A "cultural reconstruction" achieved by the churches (described by Nida in 1952) began to take place. Here class background as it emerged in the Pentecostal movement assumes a special importance. As Wilson points out, "Latin American indigenous churches have been largely the creation of the upper-lower and lower-middle clsses, the 'creative minority,' in Toynbee's phrase, whose aspirations give leadership to the socially inert masses." Wilson sees this tendency "reflected in the occupations and social standing of the emergent pentecostal leaders."(65) The appeal to come apart from the world also implied the ability of preachers to control interpretation of events in the world outside. This allowed pastors and preachers to explain social and economic strains in terms of good and evil and to concentrate the attention of members on self-discipline, helping one another, and aggressively reaching out to make new converts.(66)

   The ideas at the core of Pentecostalism are critical to an understanding of its spread(67) (and possible imitative effects in Catholicism). Its prescientific and nonrational vision of life, especially as expressed in its worship, serves many functions in a rapidly changing society. Members are allowed emotional outbursts, pleadings, protestations of hope despite deplorable circumstances, and warm and complete acceptance within a group of persons who share in this expressive subculture and who promise their support and lead newcomers in worship services through allusions and direct testimonies to the successful lives these old-timers live in emotional havens within a fast-moving, turbulent society. Older Pentecostal practitioners, through the effect that Pentecostalism had on their lives, can point to discipline (and sobriety), hard work and subsequent promotion, greater wages and greater desire to save, and obedience to authorities at work and in civil society. These are qualities thought to be needed in the socioeconomic development process, an analysis made at the beginning of this chapter.

   This kind of subjective religion gives emotional expression to many of the feelings experienced by persons caught up in the shifts to a more modern society in the country. Healing, Holy Spirit baptism, and wonder-filled happenings satisfy many of the longings of adherents. Many expressions of feelings customarily expressed diminished when fiestas, celebrations, and pilgrimages were deemphasized in an adult Catholicism growing increasingly rational and in a native religion increasingly losing its hold over and taking its economic toll on Guatemalans (native religion greatly depleted the economic surpluses of its sponsors). Feeling hurt and bewilderment and isolation from family and acquaintances, and lacking many expressions of changing popular culture, Guatemalans turned in increasing numbers to another expressive subculture.

   Indians who were accustomed to believing in a life of the spirits and in shamans found a life of the spirit much alive in frequent services and healing ceremonies readily available without dependence on the specialized office of a native shaman. Many of the same needs were evidently felt by Ladinos on the fringe of a society in which changing economic produc6ve arrangements were taking place and in which old allegiances had been challenged.

   Major shifts occurred in class structures and social movements in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in cities. Alejandro Portes, among others, notes the decline of traditional organized movements, such as labor unions, and the emergence of new social movements receiving increasing attention, such as squatter organizations, women's groups, and church-sponsored grassroots communities.(68) These movements organize members in neighborhoods, not typically by occupation, as Drogus shows in Chapter 4 in her discussion of basic Christian communities (CEBs). Pentecostal Christians constitute movements similar in many regards to these communities.

   Persons cut loose from old ties thus formed new movements, especially Pentecostalism. Embracing both traditional (nonscientific, subjective) and modern (rational, objective) ideas and behavior, Pentecostalism served as a bridge attmaixig hundreds of thousands in Guatemala. In concrete terms, for persons in a transition to a more modern mode of life (and often to greater poverty), Pentecostalism offered emotional release and effective control over one's life. Many other religious organizations did not have the same capacity to pull in participants. Moreover, Pentecostals often denigrated the cold and rational approaches of traditional Catholicism and old-style Protestantism.

   From where did the converts come to the new style of religion expression? As already noted, non-Pentecostal Protestants became Pentecostals in large numbers through conversion of their organized churches to Pentecostal bodies, a move that may be only slowly perceived by the members. But Luis Corral Prieto (a Catholic priest studying at the Protestant university in Guatemala City) in his study of Protestantism found that most of the individual converts were from Catholicism. Clifton Holland, head of the research teams surveying Protestants in Guatamala in 1980-1981 and 1990-1991, believes that many of these Catholic converts were charismatic/Pentecostal Catholics.(69) One presumes that some were disenchanted with the slow progress of their church toward something more expressive or were reacting to the social stances of some Catholic leaders.

   A ground-breaking study -- and one that fits well here -- was conducted by Timothy E. Evans in the late 1980s.(70) Evans, a sociologist, conducted the most extensive study known of religious conversion in Guatemala. He searched the country for a region that would make his study representative of the larger Guatemalan population (city and rural, Indian and Ladino, and the like). He chose the diocese of Quezaltenango and through Mayan interviewers sought reasons why large numbers (about 30 percent) were choosing especially Pentecostal Protestantism.

   Evans concludes that the majority rejected Catholicism and chose Pentecostalism because they wanted to keep the sacred separate from the profane. Reform Catholicism, for them, had mixed the sacred with the secular in ways that were unacceptable. Pentecostalism offered them an acceptable expression of the sense of the sacred. For many, Evans beheves Pentecostalism is a contemporary expression of beliefs similar to those previously expressed through traditional religions, such as Mayan religion or mystical Catholicism.

   Increasingly converts, especially from traditional Protestant groups, came from the middle and upper-middle classes to independent neoPentecostal churches. A rehgion once practiced on the fringes of society now could be seen under the Guatemalan blue-and-white tents previously reserved to society parties or in hotel auditoriums of the more prosperous zones of Guatemala City and other urban centers of power and privilege. To the very early Sunday morning worship service for servants was added a late-morning service for the patrones. Many stories are heard about the first conversions from the middle class occurring through conversations between the senora de la casa and the maid and through curiosity about the change in lifestyle evidenced by the servants.

   Many tales are told as well about the "push" factors -- the negative features that were presumed to drive some Catholics from their older allegiance. High on the list of reasons given by observers in Guatemala is the expressed dissatisfaction of many middle- and upper-class Catholics with the social and political stands of Catholic leaders.(71) This complex subject has not been fully explored by social scientists and has been greatly complicated by abortive revolutionary ties of a few Catholic leaders in Guatemala and by a culture of rumor in a society where the free press is not a long-standing privilege.

Pentecostals and Catholics: A Closer Look

   Through decades of change, Guatemalans have become ready for new forms of social organization and of social meaning. Pentecostal Protestants and reform Catholics offer both -- and often attempt to do so aggressively. Billboards, newspapers, radio, and television all carry their messages. If one word could characterize the situation, it would be assertiveness.

   To observe more closely what has been happening on the contemporary religious scene, I chose one of the newer sections of Guatemala City at random for on-site study. To the north and west of the much older downtown area he La Florida and the other subdivisions that make up Zone 19, one of the municipalities of the city; the area began to be settled in the 1960s, In 1980 and 1981 a group of Protestants cooperated in enumerating all the Protestant churches of this area as part of a larger study of Central America by Proyecto Centroamericano de Estudios Socio-Religiosos (PROCADES), a research and publication center headquartered in Costa Rica.(72) Walking or riding a bus the length and breadth of this section of Guatemala City, almost ten years after the PROCADES survey, one finds much the same church groups as recorded in the La Florida study of 1981. The number of persons attending services on a Sunday (or Saturday, for Adventists) appears to be stable or declining, ranging from a handful at one church to several hundred at another for the main Sunday service.

   Worshipers jam into Catholic churches in La Florida and neighboring colonias, sometimes five hundred or a thousand at a time, for the numerous Sunday masses. James Scanlon, a longtime Maryknoll missioner in Guatemala, began establishing a parish in the now colonia of Carolingia. To Scanlon, the multiplication of evangelical churches seemed endless, but at least in a smaller colonia, as Carolingia, the scale of compeition was a good deal less than in La Florida.

   In 1989 Scanlon and his parish welcomed back 1,800 persons who had been attending Protestant churches.(73) When Scanlon transferred from the western highlands in the early 1980s to work in Guatemala City, he drew on two strengths: (1) his experience of working closely with lay Catholic leaders in Huehuetenango and (2) the pool of reformed Catholics available among the new migrants or in nearby areas of the city. Together he and his lay leaders fanned out through the neighborhood, knocking on doors, inviting, challenging. The laypersons formed a core of some two hundred leaders, mostly fifteen to forty years old, for forming and breathing life into the new parish. Scanlon also increased efforts at bringing back Catholics who had identified themselves, at least for a time, as evangelicos. Clifton Holland, considered a major figure among Protestants attempting to put numbers on evangelical growth in Latin America, directed the 1980-1981 PROCADES study of Guatemala and directed a similar study in 1990-1991. Holland believes Catholics are stemming the tide of evangelical growth. Protestants will continue to grow, but the high rates of growth in Guatemala peaked, he believes, in 1980.(74) Another researcher, Timothy Evans, believes the Protestant growth rate in the Quezaltenango region began to decline in the period 1986-1990.(75)

   For the future, Bruce Calder, a longtime historian of religion in Guatemala, has this view:

The Protestants are not likely to decline in numbers in coming years. Rather they will continue to expand in numbers and influence, though at ever slower rate until some kind of equilibrium is established between active believers.... This point will be reached when the Evangelicals have exhausted the supply of nominal Catholics and of others who are open to but as yet uncommitted to organized churches and religions.(76)
   What is apparent in the section of Guatemala City surveyed and throughout much of Guatemala is that a general religious awakening is taking place, for Catholics and Protestants alike. General agreement among Catholics and Protestants interviewed supports special reports like La Hora's "Guatemala, Christian Awakening." The paper cited the great expansion of churches and missions among evangelicals and greater Sunday attendance and lay leadership among Catholics.(77) "The Catholic lay movements are so numerous, we cannot keep track of them all," remarked Bishop Juan Gerarch Condera.(78) Interviews conducted over ten years with veteran missionaries confirm these impressions. In two of the movements I studied, 50,000 lay Catholics were reported to have gone through the often intensive conversion experience of the Cursillos de Cristiandad and some 3,000 young persons and adults participated in El Camino Mejor retreat movement, two of the many active lay movements in Guatemala.

   Kay B. Warren, whose important work on the changes in religious symbolism and political involvement helped establish a better understanding of the religious changes taking place in Guatemala fifteen and more years ago, remarks that Catholicism as she observed it in San Andres "came on the scene like Protestantism."(79) She points to the emergence of what she calls a "folk Catholic" belief system whose adherents hold values calling for universalism and the end to ethnic subordination.(80) These are values similar to those described as operative in the lives of many Pentecostals.

   Both Protestantism of a particular kind and a Catholicism fostered by Vatican II and interpreted by clerical and lay leaders in Guatemala offered forms of religion suitable to changing social and economic conditions in which traditional Indian religion (with its strong economic implications) was breaking up. In effect, Pentecostalism and reform Catholicism offer bridges for the socioeconomic and political changes taking place in the country. Both offer symbolic systems by which a person can live a life adapted to changed conditions and the attitudes and values useful in a chaotic, modernizing society: competence in expressiveness, control over one's life, and altruism in attempting to influence family and neighbors. What Levine described as "popular sectors ... then available for new kinds of organization and experimentation"(81) describes well the situation of many evangelicals and lay Catholics in Guatemala.

Table 9.1 Catholic Seminarians in Guatemala in Philosophy and Theology

1972 1987 % Change
69 483 637

Sources: Statistical Yearbook of the Church 1987; Catholic Almanac 1975.

   A key statistic for assessing the strength of the Guatemalan Catholic church, given its reliance on leadership from its ordained clergy, is the number of seminarians (Table 9.1). However, even if large numbers of students persevere to ordination the number of new priests will hardly be enough to meet the needs of a growing population. But the increased numbers show the notably increased vitality of the Catholic church in Guatemala. And the increases of national priests would mean greater freedom from reliance on foreign clergy and a further Guatemalization of the Catholic church (as is occurring among evangelicals). Further, the increased presence of students from Indian and poor backgrounds in seminaries and the greater adaptation of seminaries to these students also foretells a church with a more national face.(82)

   Especially at the grassroots, leadership has been provided by religious sisters. They conduct established schools and educational outreach programs, run hospitals and clinics, and work in remote communities. Their numbers in Guatemala increased 30 percent from 1972 to 1987.

   When judged by statistics, impressionistic reports, and personal observation and interviews over a decade, evangelical Protestants and reform Catholics all have been successful. A religious awakening is taking place in Guatemala on a grand scale and the revival has many witnesses.

Political Consequences

   The Catholic church in Guatemala has found itself increasingly constrained by religious competition with Protestant especially Pentecostal, churches. The main thrust of this chapter has been to point to the social and economic conditions that have led to the great expansion of Protestantism. The same forces also fostered a greater religious intensity among a notable segment of Catholics. A word remains to be said about religious organizations and politics.

   Given the underdeveloped state of scholarship about contemporary religion and politics in Guatemala, it is too early to develop a systematic explanation. But an attempt should be made to indicate how Catholics and Protestants have responded in their political behavior, as well as in their "religious" attitudes, to the present-day economic and political influences.

   Most evangelical churches in Guatemala have been extremely conservative, and many have professed to be "apolitical." The kind of Protestantism that El Patrón fostered avoided political conflict and supported the status quo. It was silent in public about partisan politics and offered no public judgments about repression of persons (except on an ad hoc basis about its own members), suppression of human rights, or ethical issues of work or democracy. Through most of their histories, the dominant Protestant churches assumed that kind of apolitical stance. Jean Pierre Bastian, Protestant historian and editor of Cristianismo y Sociedad, describes this as a covert and effective political stance in support of the status quo -- that of a client to patron.(83) Except for Roberts's classical study of neighborhood politics,(84) researchers on evangelical groups have noted little overt political activity until the catastrophic events of 1976.

   There were several compelling reasons for the apolitical stance, especially because most Protestants were from the lower strata of society until the late 1970s. Wilson observes that for the "overwhelming majority of new evangelicals, the rewards of conversion, apart from transcendent or subjective satisfactions, were solely those derived from association with community."(85)The small in-group community became all-important. Further, the group frequently was or believed itself misunderstood or held in contempt. Roberts concluded that "Protestants' lack of political participation is due to their enclosed social organization." They thus become "a self-contained society within the larger society." This view did not imply, even in the 1960s, that Protestant groups did not enter into politics. They acted as active pressure groups, blocking efforts of neighbors to organize the communities to improve living conditions. They fought to keep themselves independent of Catholics and acted as divisive forces in Guatemala City.(86)

   Pentecostal groups duplicate in important ways depictions of similar groups in the United States, which are criticized for emphasizing individual salvation as a response to difficult social and political conditions. J. W. Sheppard responds that this behavior is appropriate for outsiders who are not likely to define their situation as amenable to a political solution.(87) Early participants in the Pentecostal movement saw political solutions as impractical and un0se because they were outsiders to most political processes and could see no way to effect political solutions; further, lacking power or prestige, they had no way to change the system. As a value-oriented (not a norm-oriented) movement, Pentecostals have reconstructed values and norms and redefined their world. The Pentecostal movement has been successful in part because of its ability to isolate itself from the influences of the dominant social structure. Appeals have been made over and over by preachers to come apart from the world and be separate. As Sheppard mentions, this "allowed the ministers to control the interpretation of world events."(88)

   A notable change occurred after the February 1976 earthquake. Protestants, especially neo-Pentecostals, shouldered their way into the public arena, gaining conspicuous attention. With help from their counterparts in the United States, they rushed to the forefront of assistance efforts, pushed aside cooperation with Catholics and some Protestants, and "affirmed their respect for constituted authorities" (military dictators) and their desire to collaborate with the military in the future.(89)

   There followed a highly confusing (to religious participants and to outside observers) period.(90) The assistance approach developed during the time of a natural catastrophe allowed some Protestant groups to control vast quantities of money and material resources, to reinforce their power to co-opt rural Protestant sectors (neo-Pentecostals especially recruit among other Protestats), and to mobilize Protestant popular religion for the ruling interests of the military and the groups benefiting from control and stability.

   In the warlike situation from 1978 to 1983 some evangelicals, such as Presbyterians and primitive Methodists, suffered death and persecution. But unlike them or many Catholics, most Protestants were not subject to persecution or held under suspicion. Controversy among church groups abounded during this period and was compounded when a neo-Pentecostal, General Efraín Ríos Montt, assumed the presidency (by coup, not by ballot) in 1982.

   The religious right in the United States, including Pat Robertson, greatly increased the tensions and confusions of the period by pledging vast amounts of support for Ríos Montt and, at least implicitly, for his ambitious relocation and pacification efforts. A million (in a population of eight million) persons were relocated; thousands died; many were terrorized.

   Key issues for evangelicals were anticommunism and antiCatholicism. The military found these themes especially congenial. As Clifford Kraus, correspondent for the Wall Street Journal writing in Inside Central America mentions: "Evangelical Christianity became a principal element of counterinsurgency -- with the army helping to build churches for survivors."(91)

   Ríos Montt's removal as president in 1983 was a setback to those evangelicals who favored a wedding of a certain kind of Pentecostalism and the presidency. Some evangelicals began regrouping (one is always acutely aware of fragmentation among evangelicals in Guatemala), and in 1987 an ad hoc group submitted a position paper "The Political Task of Evangelicals: Ideas for a New Guatemala." The paper acknowledged the political inexperience of the Protestant community and serious political errors of the Ríos Montt presidency.(92)

   The larger world has changed drastically in the period from when Jorge Serrano Elías left the presidential palace as adviser to Ríos Montt in 1983 and returned as president in 1991. Communism has receded as a world force and now may or may not motivate guerrillas in Guatemala. Attempts at national reconciliation, including the involvement of guerrilla representatives as major actors, have achieved major importance, and the Catholic church has been prominent in this effort. Bishop Rodolfo Quezada became president of the National Reconciliation Commission; Serrano Elías was positioned by his side as a member.

Individual Catholics and Protestants

   How then to explain politics in Guatemala and the support of many Catholics Or Ríos Moritt or Serrano? To presume politics like those of the United States helps not at all. Guatemala is developing economically in a pattern different from that of North America or Europe. If economically based stratification systems are the basis for politics in North Atlantic countries, then Guatemala represents the case of a country where the processes of migration, urbanization, and other socioeconomic changes continue to outpace industrialization and fail to produce a working class conscious of its political interests. This creates competition and instability among all the sectors of the population.

   The system of stratification emerging in Guatemala thus provides a basis for political control imposed from above. An apparent identity of interests, especially stability, exists between those of differing economic positions. As Roberts points out, "The poor [of Guatemala City] are quite prepared to cooperate with professionals and middle-class politicians in an attempt to improve their position."(93) Indeed, Ríos Montt might have been elected to the presidency. Serrano, to a great extent his surrogate, won the presidential election in 1990 on the basis of a platform stressing control, security, and a common pulling together to save Guatemala from chaos and a downward economic spiral. Catholics and Protestants from very different social positions brought Serrano to power with much the same economic interests in mind. It is no wonder, then, that committed Catholics worked diligently in the Serrano campaign.(94) He represents a safeguarding of perceived interests, rich and poor.

   Protestantism now has a long history in Guatemala, and many Protestants have found acceptance as first-class Guatemalans. Jorge Serrano Elías qualifies as one of them. His election, the first of a Protestant as president, represents the coming of age of Protestants in public life. But his performance may be severely circumscribed. In Guatemalan politics the military has the controlling interest.(95) Independent action on the part of the president may not be easily accomplished.

Corporate Voices

   From Barrios's point of view, the Catholic church, at least its hierarchy, the agency Barrios most feared, has become among the most outspoken and most admired by progressives in Central America.(96) In an atmosphere of limited democracy and lessened repression, the Catholic church in Guatemala is finding a role in politics by attempting to define major political issues. It does this by framing issues in moral, ethical terms, emphasizing notions of distributive justice and participation of citizens in the common good.

   But the place of the Catholic church in the public arena is now more limited because it is not the only public religious voice in Guatemala. Other religious traditions within contemporary Guatemalan Christianity have spokespersons and clear, simple messages with (increasingly, they believe) a political mandate. The Catholic church now competes with other voices speaking from the religious platform, an unaccustomed and perplexing position.

   Walled up by legal restrictions and beaten down by liberal governments for a long period and later by a repressive army, the Catholic church has found a modest and active voice in contemporary politics and a renewed place in society. Sometimes favored and protected in a hostile environment, evangelical Christians, if not churches, have also found a voice in national politics. These are the prominent -- but not only -- faces of religion reorganizing to meet the challenges brought on by modernity. Neither the original builders of modernization theory nor El Patrón can rest easily.


Helpful comments used in the revision of this chapter were made especially by Hannah Stewart-Gambino, Bruce Calder, Lesley Gill, Hubert J. Miller, Philip Williams, Everett A. Wilson, Eugene TeSelle, and Edward T. Brett and are gratefully acknowledged.

1. For a general history of Protestantism in Latin America, see Hans-Jurgen Prien, La historia del cristianismo en América Latina (Salamanca: Sígueme, 1985); for individual countríes, see Comisión de Estudios de Historia de la Iglesia en América Latina (CEHILA), Historia general de la iglesia en América Latina, 9 vols. (Mexico City: Paulinas, 1984). See also Jean-Pierre Bastian, Historia del protestantismo en América Latina (Mexico City: Centro de Comunicación Cultural CUPSA, 1990). Extensive bibliographies appear in David Martin, Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990); David Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); and Bibliografía teológica comentada del area latinoamericana (Buenos Aires: Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos, 1973/74), vol. 1/2.

2. See also Rodney Stark, "Introduction," in Stark, ed., Religious Movements: Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers (New York: Paragon, 1985), pp. 7-8.

3. Martin, Tongues of Fire; Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant?

4. For a discussion of the meaning of secularization and its variations in national contexts, see, for example, David Martin, "Secularization and Its Discontents," in Brian R. Wilson, ed., Religion in Sociological Perspective (New York: Oxford, 1982), ch. 6, pp. 148-179; and Martin, A General Theory of Secularization (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978).

5. Martin, General Theory of Secularization; Richard K. Fenn, Toward a Theory of Secularization (Ellington, Corm.: Society for the Scientific Study of Religion); Bryan Wilson,"The Secularization Debate," Encounter 45, pp. 77_83# Wilson, "The Return of the Sacred," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 18, pp. 268-280; Rodney Stark and William S. Bainbridge, The Future of Religion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 1.

6. Daniele Hervieu Leger, "Religion and Modernity in the French Context: For a New Approach to Secularization," Sociological Analysis 51, SS (1990), p. S15.

7. Ibid.

8. The literature on secularization is vast. See, for example, Jeffrey K. Hadden and Anson Sharpe, eds., Secularization and Fundamentalism Reconsidered: Religion and Political Order, vol. 3 (New York: Paragon, 1989), and other volumes in the series.

9. See especially Hervieu Leger, "Religion and Modernity."

10. Martin, Tongues ofFire, pp. 3-4.

11. Daniel Levine, "Popular Groups, Popular Culture, and Popular Religion," Comparative Studies in Society and History 32, 4 (1990), p. 722.

12. Ibid.; Alejandro Portes, "Latin American Class Structures: Their Composition and Change During the Last Decades," Latin American Research Review (hereafter LARR) 20, 3 (1985), pp. 7-40; Portes, "Latin American Urbanization in the Years of Crisis," LARR 24,3 (1989), pp. 7-44.

13. See, for example, Susan Eckstein, "Power and Popular Protest in Latin America," in Eckstein, ed., Power and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 1-60.

14. Ibid., p. 56.

15. Edward L. Cleary and Eugene TeSelle, "Evangelical Surge in Latin America: An Analysis," Latin American and Caribbean Contemporary Record 9 (New York: Holmes and Meier, forthcoming).

16. Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant?

17. Among many examples are Carol A. Smith, ed., Guatemalan Indians and the State: 1540-1988 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990); Smith, "Survival Strategies Among Peuy Commodity Producers in Guatemala," International Labour Review 128, 6 (1989), pp. 791-813; Smith "Local History in Global Context: Social and Economic Transitions in Western Guatemala," Comparative Studies in Society and History 26, 2 (1984), pp. 193-228; Anthony Winson, "The Formation of Capitalist Agriculture in Latin America and Its Relationship to Political Power and the State," Comparative Studies in Society and History 25, 1 (1983), pp. 83-104; David J. McCreery, "Debt Servitude in Rural Guatemala, 1876-1936," Hispanic American Historical Review 63, 4 (1983), pp. 735-759; McCreery, "An Odious Feudalism: Mandamiento Labor and Commercial Agriculture in Guatemala, 1858--1920," Latin American Perspectives 13, 1 (1986), pp. 99-117; Richard N. Adams, "The Conquest Tradition of Mesoamerica," The Americas 46,2 (1989), pp. 119-136; W. George Lovell, "Surviving Conquest: The Maya of Guatemala in Historical Perspective," LARR 28, 2 (1988), pp. 25-57; Robert M. Carmack, ed., Harvest of Violence: The Maya Indians and the Guatemalan Crisis (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988); Lynn Stephens and James Dow, eds., Class, Politics, and Popular Religion in Mexico and Central America (Washington, D.C.: Society for Latin American Anthropology, 1990). For an overview of anthropological and historical literature, see Carol A. Smith and Jeff Boyer, "Central America since 1979: Part 1," Annual Review of Anthropology 16 (1987), pp. 197-221

18. Hubert J. Miller, private communication, May 1, 1991.

19. John Lloyd Mecham, Church and State in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1934), p. 370. See also Hubert J. Miller, La iglesia católica y el estado en Guatemala, 1871-1885 (Guatemala City: Universidad de San Carlos, 1976); and Mary P. Holleran, Church and State in Guatemala (New York: Octagon, 1974).

20. As Lesley Gill cautions: "Priests may not have celebrated mass in Indian communities, but Catholic influences penetrated the countryside in many and powerful ways, e.g., through landlords, in market centers, and during fiestas." Private communication, May 20,1991.

21. Interviews, 1981-1991, David Kelly, James Curtin, Bishop Richard Ham, Daniel Jensen, Carroll Quinn, Maurice Healy, Ronald Michaels, and other Maryknoll missioners.

22. Miller, private communication, May 1, 1991.

23. McCreery, "An Odious Feudalism," p. 104.

24. See, for example, Shelton H. Davis, "Introduction: Sowing the Seeds of Violence," in Carmack, Harvest of Violence, p. 15.

25. Ibid.

26. David McCreery, "Coffee and Class: The Structure of Development in Liberal Guatemala," HAHR 56, 3 (August 1976), p. 457.

27. Smith depicts well We alternative, nonagricultural sources of income among peasants. Smith, "Survival Strategies."

28. Sheldon Annis, God and Production in a Guatemalan Town (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987), p. 140.

29. Ibid., pp. 140-141.

30. Smith, "Local History," pp. 211-212; Kay B. Warren, The Symbolism of Subordination: Indian Identity in a Guatemalan Town (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978), p. 16.

31. See, for example, P. A. Kluck, "The Society and Its Environment" in Richard F. Nyrop, ed., Guatemala: A Country Study (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984), pp. 68-70.

32. Everett A. Wilson, "Identity, Community, and Status:The Legacy of the Central American Pentecostal Pioneers," in Joel A. Carpenter and Wilbert R. Shenk, eds., Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 1880-1980 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990), pp. 133-151; Charles W. Conn, Where the Saints Have Trod: A History of the Church of God Missions (Cleveland, Tenn.: Pathway, 1959), pp. 131-138. Stanley Howard Frodsham, With Signs Following: The Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1946), p. 216, mentions graduates of the bible school in El Salvador working in Guatemala.

33. David Kelly, "Maryknoll History, Guatemala-El Salvador Region: 1943-1969," mimeo, Guatemala City: Maryknoll Missioners, 1969, pp. 5-6.

34. Ibid., p. 16

35. Douglas E. Brintnall, Revolt of the Dead: Modernization of a Mayan Community in the Highlands of Guatemala (New York: Gordon and Breach), p. 73.

36. Davis, "Sowing the Seeds," p. 21.

37. Adams, "Conquest Tradition," pp. 126,129.

38. Reformed Catholicism refers to changes in Catholicism perceived by Indians as opposition to traditional practices, including abusive drinking and costly sponsorship of saints' day celebrations. See Hans C. Buechler, The Masked Media: Aymara Fiestas and Social Interaction in the Bolivian Highlands (The Hague: Mouton, 1980), pp. 282-283. See also Thomas E. Lengyel, "Religious Factionalism and Social Diversity in a Mayan Community," Wisconsin Sociologist 16 (SpringSummer 1979), pp. 83-84.

39. Ricardo Falla, Quiché rebelde: Estudio de un movimiento de conversión religiosa, rebelde a las creencias tradicionales, en San Antonio Ilotenango, Quiché (1848-1970) (Guatemala City: Editorial Universitaria, 1980); Warren, Symbolism. See also Brintnall, Revolt; and Annis, God and Production.

40. Brintnall, Revolt, p. 76.

41. Carmack, Harvest of Violence, p. 295.

42. Patrick Johnstone, Operation World, 4th ed. (Waynesboro, Ga: STL Books, 1986), p. 200.

43. Emilio Willems, "Protestantism and Culture Change in Brazil and Chile," in William D'Antonio and Frederick B. Pike, eds., Religion, Revolution, and Reform (New York: Praeger, 1964).

44. Bryan Roberts, "Protestant Groups and Coping with Urban Life in Guatemala City," American Journal of Sociology 73 (1968), pp. 753-767; Roberts, Organizing Strangers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).

45. Roberts, "Protestant Groups," p. 761.

46. John Lofland, Doomsday Cult (Englewoods Cliff, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1960), pp. 31-62.

47. Emilio Antonio Nuñez, "The Influence of Protestantism in the Historical Development of Guatemala," Theological Fraternity Bulletin 1 (1979), pp. 6-7.

48. Richard N. Adams, Crucifixion by Power: Essays on Guatemalan National Social Structure (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970).

49. For a small Latin American country, Guatemala has more than the usual number of histories of Protestantism; many of the histories have limited utility, being written ahng institutional lines. See especially Virginia Garrard Burnett, "A History of Protestantism in Guatemala," Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 1984; Burnett, "Protestantism in Rural Guatemala, 1872-1954," Latin American Research Review 24,2 (1989), pp. 127-142; Burnett, "God and Revolution: Protestant Missions in Revolutionary Guatemala," The Americas 46, 2 (1989), pp. 205-233; Gennet Maxon Emery, Protestantism in Guatemala: Its Influence on the Bicultural Situation, with Reference to the Roman Catholic Background (Cuernavaca: Centro Intercultural de Formación, 1970); Virgilio Zapata Arceyuz, Historia de la iglesia evangélica en Guatemala (Guatemala City: Genesis, 1982); Luis Corral Prieto, "La iglesias evangélicas," Estudios Teológicas 13 (January-June 1980), pp. 1-199; Wilton M. Nelson, Protestantism in Central America (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1984); and Kenneth B. Grubb, Religion in Central America (New York: World Dominion, 1938).

50. Grubb, Religion, p. 67.

51. See, for example, Miller, La iglesia.

52. Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Presbiteriana de Guatemala, Apuntes para la historia (Guatemala City: Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de Guatemala, 1980), p. 40.

53. Pablo Burgess, Justo Ruftno Barrios (Guatemala City: Editorial Universitaria de Guatemala, 1972), pp. 329-330.

54. J. G. Cassel, quoted by Mildred Spain, And in Samaria (Dallas, Tex.: Central American Mission, 1954), p. 163.

55. Allan Figueroa Deck, The Second Wave: Hispanic Ministry and the Evangelization of Cultures (New York: Paulist, 1983), p. 43ff.

56. Zapata, Historia, p. 174.

57. Nelson, Protestantism, p. 46.

58. One of the Protestant inventions emanating from Central America has a controversial history. Several points of view about the Summer Institute of Linguistics are expressed in the following: David Stoll, Fishers ofMen or Founders of Empire? (Cambridge, Mass.: Cultural Survival, 1982); Robert B. Taylor, "The Summer Institute of Linguistics/Wycliffe Bible Translators," in Frank A. Salmone, ed., "Missionaries and Anthropologists," pt. 3, Studies in Third World Societies 26 (1985), pp. 93-116; and Soren Hvolkof and Peter Aaly, eds., Is God an American?: An Anthropological Perspective on the Missionary Work of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (London: Survival International, 1981).

59. Wilson, "Identity," p. 140. (emphasis mine).

60. Holland, interview, October 30,1990.

61. Burnett, "History," p. 2.

62. Ibid., p. 5.

63. Interview with Everett Wilson, August 1, 1990.

64. "Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity," in Mircea Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 11 (New York: Macmillan, 1987), p. 229.

65. Wilson, "Identity," p. 148; Eugene A. Nida, "The Relationship of Social Structure to the Problems of Evangelism in Latin America," Practical Anthropology 5 (1958), pp. 101-123.

66. See J. W. Sheppard, "Sociology of Pentecostalism," in Stanley A Burgess and Gary B. McGee, eds., Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Regency, 1989), pp. 794-799.

67. Two of the many surveys and analyses of Pentecostalism are Donald W. Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1987); and Killian McDonnell, Charismatic Renewal and the Churches (New York: Seabury, 1976).

68. Portes, "Urbanization," p. 36; Elizabeth Jelin, Los nuevos movimientos sociales, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1985).

69. Corral Prieto, "La iglesias," p. 65; Holland, interview, October 30,1990. See also Guillermo Cook, "The Evangelical Groundswell in Latin America," Christian Century, December 12, 1990, pp. 1175-1176.

70. Timothy E. Evans, "Religious Conversion in Guatemala," Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1990.

71. Interviews, February 1981 and July 1990.

72. Directorio de las iglesias, organizaciones y ministerios del movimiento protestante: Guatemala (San Jose, Costa Rica: PROCADES, 1981).

73. Interviews with Carroll Quinn, July 19,1990, and October 3,1990.

74. Holland, interview, October 30,1990.

75. Evans, interview, February 9,1991.

76. "The Response of the Catholic Church to the Growth of Protestantism in Guatemala," Historia general de Guatemala, vol. 5 (Guatemala: Fundación para la Cultura y el Desarrollo, forthcoming).

77. La Hora, July 18,1990.

78. Interview, July 16,1990.

79. Interview, December 1, 1990.

80. Warren, interview, December 1, 1990; and Warren, Symbolism.

81. Levine, "Popular Groups," p. 722.

82. Interviews with Pablo Vizcaino, rector, and faculty, Seminario Mayor de la Asunción, Guatemala, July 19,1990.

83. Bastian, "Religíon popular Protestante y comportamiento político en América Central: Clientela religiosa y estado patrón en Guatemala y Nicaragua," Cristianismo y Sociedad 88 (1986), pp. 41-56.

84. Roberts, "Protestant Groups."

85. Everett A. Wilson, "The Central American Evangelicals: From Protest to Pragmatism," International Review of Missions 77, 305 (January 1988), p. 97.

86. Roberts, "Protestant Groups," p. 766.

87. Sheppard, "Sociology," pp. 796-797.

88. Ibid., p. 797.

89. "La nueva junta directiva de la alianza evangélica de Guatemala," La Nación, July 17, 1976, cited by Jean-Pierre Bastian, "Religión popular protestante y comportamiento político en América Central," Crisiantismo y Sociedad 86 (1986), p. 49.

90. An orientation to this period is ably provided by Bruce Calder in "The Response of the Catholic Church to the Growth of Protestantism in Guatemala," Historia general de Guatemala, vol. 5 (Guatemala: Fundación para la Cultura y el Desarrollo, forthcoming).

91. Clifford Kraus, Inside Central America: Its People, Politics, and History (NewYork: Summit Books, 1991), p. 41. See also Jorge Pixley, "Algunas lecciones de la experiencia Ríos Montt," Cristianismo y Sociedad 76 (1983), p. 9.

92. See commentary on the document in Private Organizations with U.S. Connections: Guatemala (Albuquerque: Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, 1990), p. 9.

93. Roberts, Organizing Strangers, p. 348.

94. Interview with Eduardo Rottman, July 16, 1990.

95. Research on the Guatemalan military is well established. See, for example, Jim Handy, "Resurgent Democracy and the Guatemalan Military," Journal of Latin American Studies 18, 2 (November 1986), pp. 381-408; Carol A. Smith, "The Militarization of Civil Society in Guatemala: Economic Reorganization as a Continuation of War," Latin American Perspectives 17,4 (1990), pp. 8-41; Jennifer Schirmer, "The Guatemalan Military Project: An Interview with General Héctor Gramajo," Harvard International Review 13, 3 (1991), pp. 10-13. Michael Richards, "Cosmopolitan World View and Counterinsurgency in Guatemala," Anthropological Quarterly 3 (1985), pp. 90-107; Gabriel Aguilera Peralta, "Terror and Violence as Weapons of Counterinsurgency in Guatemala," Latin American Perspectives 25 (1980), pp. 91-113; and on the origins of military as an institution, see Richard N. Adams, "The Development of the Military," in his Crucifixion by Power: Essays in Guatemalan Social Structure, 1944-1966 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970), pp. 239-277.

96. See, for example, Envío 9 (May 1990), pp. 105-106; and Tom Barry, Guatemala: A Country Guide (Albuquerque, N.M.: Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, 1990), p. 100.