Luther in Brazil

Reporting on the growth of evangelicalism in Latin America isn’t exactly “news,” but Henry Chu‘s LA Times feature on the transformation is an exception to the usual fare for several reasons. First, because he turns to Latin American talking heads rather than the ubiquitous Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom, a not-so-subtle endorsement of the change. Second, because Chu and his colleagues confront the economic conservatism of the evangelical boom head on. One middle-class convert tells them he left the Catholic Church because “I couldn’t agree with what they preached — the images of Christ suffering.” And an evangelical pastor boasts that “to take care of the poor is not our most important mission, like it is with the Catholic Church.” That’s conservatism is a story the U.S. press has mostly tip-toed around, following the old pattern of reporting religion as primarily a personal matter — a frame that serves Latin American evangelicalism, opposed to the social gospel, quite well.

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