Chapter

Exorcising the Demons of Deprivation: Divine Healing and Conversion in Brazilian Pentecostalism

R. Andrew Chesnut

in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393408
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894390 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393408.003.0009
Exorcising the Demons of Deprivation: Divine Healing and Conversion in Brazilian Pentecostalism

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Divine healing, more than glossolalia, is the most universal gift of the Spirit in Latin American pentecostalism. Less than half of pentecostal informants in Belém, Pará, Brazil, regularly spoke in tongues, but most claimed that Jesus or the Holy Spirit had cured them. The disease of poverty predisposes the dispossessed of Brazil and Latin America to accept pentecostal cura divina (divine cure or faith healing) and libertação (exorcism or deliverance). Poverty and illness are necessary, but insufficient, preconditions for conversion. Reaching a health crisis and perceiving a divine cure are also necessary. Church altar calls for healing are supplemented by testimonials and prayers from relatives, friends, and neighbors. Typically, the afflicted first try cheaper, easier home remedies; then medical aid; then curandeiras (folk healers), saints of Catholicism, or Umbanda spirits of African-Brazilian religions; finally paying the high price demanded by pentecostalism of accepting Jesus in exchange for a cure.

Keywords: Brazil; Latin America; poverty; illness; conversion; deliverance; curandeiras; folk healers; Umbanda; Catholicism; African-Brazilian religions

Chapter.  7330 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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