Journal Article

“Letting God Govern”: Supernatural Agency in the Venezuelan Pentecostal Approach to Social Change *

David A. Smilde

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 59, issue 3, pages 287-303
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
“Letting God Govern”: Supernatural Agency in the Venezuelan Pentecostal Approach to Social Change *

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Social scientists studying Pentecostalism in Latin America have argued that it is political in the identities, expectations, and social formations it creates; and that it could have important political consequences in the future. But do Pentecostals themselves think about their role in changing society? In this article I conceptualize the “religious frame” of Venezuelan Pentecostals and explore it using data from qualitative interviews. The results show that these Pentecostals see social problems as the result of wrong relations between humans and the supernatural realm. The solution therefore arises from religious action that seeks to order the relations between humans and the supernatural. This vision represents the common thread that runs through the type of involvement Pentecostals themselves propose, and the particular opportunities and dangers they see in common forms of secular social action. In the conclusion, I use this conceptualization to assess their future political impact.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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