Journal Article

Becoming the Red Bishop of Cuernavaca: Rethinking Gill's Religious Competition Model

Robert Sean Mackin

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 64, issue 4, pages 499-514
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Becoming the Red Bishop of Cuernavaca: Rethinking Gill's Religious Competition Model

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Many explanations for the rise of progressive Catholicism in Latin America draw on internal and external factors. Gill (1994, 1998) breaks with this trend arguing that competition from Protestantism is key. After providing some methodological criticisms of Gill's work, the case of Cuernavaca, Mexico under the so-called “Red Bishop” Sergio Méndez Arceo is presented. This case suggests that competition from Protestantism played little or no role in his radicalization; rather, other factors (the Second Vatican Council and a radical worker's movement, among others) explain his transformation. In addition, it is suggested that for this case Gill's causal arrow should be reversed: Protestantism did not lead to the bishop's radicalization; rather his radicalization facilitated the growth of non-Catholic churches. The concluding section relates this study to recent research on religious pluralism and religious participation suggesting that for Gill's model religious pluralism is not a good indication of religious competition.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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