Religious Freedom and State Power in the Latin American Experience

The recent appearance of a number of Christian historical movies, such as There Be Dragons, on the sufferings of Catholics during the Spanish Civil War; Of Gods and Men, on a massacre of Trappist monks by Muslim fighters in 1996; and For the Greater Glory, on the Cristiada War in Mexico, makes John Lynch’s New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America curiously timed.  This excellent book gives a panoramic description of the rise, ups and downs, and present state of religion in Latin America.  It covers the different Christian churches, Judaism, Vodou, Santeria, and Amerindian religions.  However, it justifiably focuses on the Catholic Church, for as the author makes clear, Catholicism has been for five centuries “the defining religion of Latin America.” 

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