Abstract and Keywords
Far from being a newcomer, mainline Protestantism has played a number of roles in the Latin American religious drama. In the colonial era, it represented the dangerous Other vis-à-vis the political, social, and religious structures. In the late eighteenth century, Protestantism was identified with Enlightenment ideas that were perceived as dangerous to the colonial order. During the independence period of the early nineteenth century, Protestant churches confronted a number of challenges of the new republics: debating religious liberty, challenging Roman Catholic hegemony, settling the countryside, and forming leaders who supported politically liberal causes. Though often considered a foreign element representative of European and US sociopolitical interests, mainline Protestant churches have largely come into their own, breaking from missionary or immigrant roots to form their own ecclesial, educational, and interdenominational structures, to develop their own leaders, and to form vital theological perspectives within local and national contexts. For the past century, main-line Protestantism has represented an alternative theological and ecclesiastical voice to Catholicism and evangelicalism, seeking to address Latin America’s challenges of poverty, war, and corruption through their faith traditions.
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