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     Tim Brown reports:
     The inroads being made in Latin America by Protestantism are indeed a fascinating subject to study. Guatemala has probably already become the region's first country to shift from majority Catholic to majority Protestant. But one must carefully differentiate between charismatic and more traditionalist Protestants. While this varies widely from country to country, relatively few inroads have been made by more traditional churches such as the Presbyterians or Anglicans, a few more by Methodists and Baptists, most by evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses.
     Since I am from an evangelical background myself perhaps my views reflect that background even though I am now less steeped in it than in my youth, just as Linda Nyquist's may, despite her modifications appears still to reflect her Catholic origins.
     In any case, in my experience, most Protestant groups in the region do in fact strongly promote education, family and individual moral values, and the "better life". In fact these are among the greatest attractions of these churches for the poor who for five centuries have been marginalized precisely by Catholic- dominated regimes.
     As to liberation theory and the Maryknolls, there we would disagree. While many Americans and the increasingly small number of Latin Americans still cling to this path, it was very closely tied to the left in the Cold War rather than in any theological struggle, and it has lost most of its clout. Although I an still a Protestant, I often go to Catholic mass and have a parish priest who is a product of a Mexican seminary and long a supporter of liberation theory. A few months, much to my surprise, he said to me: "It's obvious that liberation theory has failed. But what's the alternative?" to this unexpected query about theology from a Catholic priest, I cold only answer. "When I tired of reading the words of men, like Teilhard de Chardin and Don Helder Camara, I went back to reading the words of God in the Bible."

Ronald Hilton - 10/28/99


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