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Latino Pentecostal Identity

Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society

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  • Book Info
    Latino Pentecostal Identity
    Book Description:

    Of the thirty-seven million Latinos living in the United States, nearly five million declare themselves to be either Pentecostal or Charismatic, and more convert every day. Latino Pentecostal Identity examines the historical and contemporary rise of Pentecostalism among Latinos, their conversion from other denominations, and the difficulties involved in reconciling conflicts of ethnic and religious identity. The book also looks at how evangelical groups encourage the severing of ethnic ties in favor of spiritual community and the ambivalence Latinos face when their faith fails to protect them from racial discrimination.

    Latinos are not new to Pentecostalism; indeed, they have been becoming Pentecostal for more than a hundred years. Thus several generations have never belonged to any other faith. Yet, as Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh articulates, the perception of adherents as Catholic converts persists, eliding the reality of a specific Latino Pentecostal population that both participates in the spiritual and material culture of the larger evangelical Christian movement and imprints that movement with its own experiences. Focusing on three groups of Latino Pentecostals/Charismatics -- the Assemblies of God, Victory Outreach, and the Vineyard -- Sánchez Walsh considers issues such as the commodification of Latino evangelical culture, the Latinization of Pentecostalism, and the ways in which Latino Pentecostals have differentiated themselves from the larger Latino Catholic culture. Extensive fieldwork, surveys, and personal interviews inform her research and show how, in an overwhelmingly Euro-American denomination, diverse Latino faith communities -- U.S. Chicano churches, pan--Latin American immigrant churches, and mixed Latin American and U.S. Latino churches -- have carved out their own unique religious space.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50896-4
    Subjects: Religion, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxii)

    This book begins, in chapter 1, with a broad overview of Assemblies of God work on the borderlands. Of particular interest were the ways that Anglo-American missionaries and Latinos interacted, viewed each other, and negotiated their faith lives. In examining the history of the Assemblies of God missionaries and their Bible institute, I found that a shift from Latino ex-Catholic converts to Latino Pentecostals had occurred and that, despite the earnestness of the evangelical mission, Latinos were, and still remain, in pockets of powerlessness in churches they helped to build. In exploring the cultural and social assumptions of Euro American...

  7. 1. El Aposento Alto
    (pp. 1-47)

    This book examines the interplay between religious and ethnic identity among Latino Pentecostals/charismatics for clues to how they negotiate their varied identities. The Assemblies of God, Victory Outreach, and the Vineyard are studied to determine how they have created their religious identity and how that identity has intermingled with their ethnic identity. Through fieldwork, oral histories, and surveys, this project found that Latino Pentecostals/charismatics have an ambivalent relationship with their ethnic identity. On the one hand, they tend to subsume their ethnic identity under the rubric of their religious identity for very specific reasons: (1) the feeling Pentecostals have that...

  8. 2. Workers for the Harvest: LABI and the Institutionalizing of a Latino Pentecostal Identity
    (pp. 48-86)

    This chapter examines the formation of a Latino Pentecostal identity through the work of the Latin American Bible Institute (LABI). In particular, the formation of that identity began in the first years of LABI and continues to the present day primarily through four processes: (1) reinforcement of Pentecostal orthodoxy through pedagogy; (2) encouragement of spiritual gifts to deepen one’s spirituality; (3) reinforcement of moral codes; and (4) development of a sense of mission. Pentecostals concern themselves with the spiritual realm, constantly guarding against ungodly spirits during their practices. Orthodoxy concerns Pentecostals in ethereal and temporal spaces. Thus safeguards for both...

  9. 3. “Normal Church Can’t Take Us”: Victory Outreach and the Re-Creation of a Latino Pentecostal Identity”
    (pp. 87-131)

    In 1967 Cruz “Sonny” Arguinzoni, a former drug addict turned Pentecostal minister, purchased a house in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles. Through his first vision, “East L.A. for Jesus,” Arguinzoni sought to carve out a familial, cultural, and religious space for addicts, gang members, ex-convicts, the homeless, and others. Before Arguinzoni began reshaping the Pentecostalism he had learned at LABI, Assemblies of God minister David Wilkerson pioneered the need for a Pentecostal social mission to drug addicts. Wilkerson’s ministry, Teen Challenge, attempted to build relationships between the church and teenagers, who, in today’s parlance, would be called “at-risk...

  10. 4 Slipping Into Darkness: “God’s Anointed Now Generation” and the Making of a Latino Evangelical Youth Culture
    (pp. 132-153)

    Victory Outreach is in a bind in its efforts to grow and evolve, and to widen its circle of potential members, because of its desire to retain its distinctiveness as a specialized mission. By modernizing and accommodating to the second generation, the church may become just another denomination in a disparate world of evangelicals offering recovery services as part of its menu of ministries. Because second-generation members want to reach their peers, they construct and co-opt cultural forms and social entities that they believe will attract disaffected youth. In other words, the making of a Latino Pentecostal identity needs to...

  11. 5 Worlds Apart: The Vineyard, La Viña, and the American Evangelical Subculture
    (pp. 154-191)

    Entering the fray to try to find a middle path away from the dogmatic and often legalistic theology of classical Pentecostalism and the often noncharismatic, historic evangelical traditions were a loosely knit group of evangelicals who wondered, aloud, what would happen were they to offer evangelical theology and charismatic worship in their services. What would happen if their pastors dressed down and broke up the sermon with an occasional rock and roll song and a coffee break, and preached authentically in personal and spiritual matters? Would such a movement be effective beyond the casual baby-boomer base that earlier had spawned...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 192-194)

    Studying communities of faith has its inherent problems; I believe that I faced them all over the last five years. More times than I can remember, I was asked about my own faith preferences, quizzed about the purpose of my work, and viewed suspiciously as an interloper in private church matters. I was asked if I had ever been in prison, presumably because only if I had been in prison would I understand the significance of the meeting I attended. More often than not, these queries were not intended to stifle my research but simply to understand where I was...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 195-196)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 197-220)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-230)
  16. Index
    (pp. 231-244)