Chains of Liberation: Poverty and Social Action in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

Jill Detemple

in Latino Religions and Civic Activism in the United States

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780195162271
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850365 | DOI:
Chains of Liberation: Poverty and Social Action in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

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This chapter argues that, for many on the margins of society, acting to change the system via the organized and group-oriented methods of the system is neither a logical nor a tangible initial path. Rather, a more radical reordering of power structures is required—one that removes, at least temporarily, the specter of the system altogether. Drawing on work on the Brazilian-based Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Boston, the chapter shows that although they do not use the same social justice language found in Catholic and Mainline Protestant circles, in fact, Pentecostals do work to these ends. It shows that a new model of social engagement is needed and it should take into account the important impact that individual conversion and transformation has on community life. For poor and working-class Latinos, this is a much more practical, direct, and concrete way of changing society, th chapter suggests. In this respect, spiritual liberation is directly tied to a new identity and the ability to overcome injustice, poverty, isolation, and disenfranchisement in their public lives. Thus, Pentecostalism empowers the individual to transform not only him- or herself but also society.

Keywords: Pentecostals; social action; Boston; social justice; community life

Chapter.  6233 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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