Chapter

¡A-Dios, homies!

Robert Brenneman

in Homies and Hermanos

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753840
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918836 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753840.003.0005
¡A-Dios, homies!

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This chapter uses firsthand accounts to understand how gang members who convert or join a church make use of religion to find safety and stability after the gang. According to gang intervention experts and ex-gang members themselves, while leaving the gang is extremely risky, most gang cells allow for an “evangelical exemption,” meaning that gang deserters who convert will be allowed a “pass” as long as they make it clear that they are sincere through strict observance of the teetotaling piety of the church. But conversion accounts revealed more than just strategy is involved. Several ex-gang members told of conversions that took them by surprise, usually in the midst of a lively, emotional service. The chapter uses the sociology of emotions to examine how deeply emotional religious conversions, especially those that took place in the presence of many other people, allowed gang members to discharge shame by expressing remorse in a public setting. The account is compared with “reintegrative shaming,” a model of restorative justice practiced in some non-Western societies.

Keywords: reintegrative shaming; sociology of emotions; conversion; restorative justice; gangs; ex-gang members; gang intervention; Central America

Chapter.  13728 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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