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Linda Nyquist was brought up in a Catholic school, but now she is a fidelista (Fidel Castro was educated by the Jesuits!). She admires the Maryknoll activists, who have been in trouble with the Pope and with the law, because they represent the church not only militant, but military. In fact, from what she says, religion is a secondary issue with them. She has mixed feelings about the Protestants; other observers are more favorable. For example, the Seventh-Day Adventists provide valuable medical help. I hear that the Protestants do in fact promote family planning. Linda reports:
The evangelicals have thoroughly penetrated the Oaxacan countryside, and there are churches sprouting everywhere. Even here in Seattle, most of the [Latin American?] patients with whom I work have converted. How do I know this? After some preliminary chit-chat, they ask "Are you a Christian?" This is REALLY a loaded question, because by Christian they absolutely do not mean Catholic.Many of their gripes about the Catholic church are pretty baseless, as they really do not understand theology at all. Their "pastors" are usually self-appointed persons, of good intention, but barely literate themselves, who then proceed to read the bible and interpret it for their respective flocks. You can imagine the results! If women WAISers have difficulties with some aspects of Islam, just try one of these "new religions." Welcome to the 14th century!
Are there any benefits? Perhaps. It SEEMS to reduce alcoholism in the men, who boss the whole family, and especially the wife, around ad infinitum. And they are usually very conservative on the issues of family planning, reverting to the large families that I believe most of us would consider a block to further development. Finally, the whole emphasis is on the religion, gaining the Kingdom of Heaven, etc. Much less attention appears to be paid to education and pushing children toward a better life. The Mormons seem to the exception to this.
I know this is an area under study by scholars. The Maryknolls (Catholic) and other liberation theologists, are doing some very good work that I have seen, without the hook that one must subscribe to the religion.
Ronald Hilton - 10/27/99