Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Abstract

In what ways is Pentecostalism a catalyst or an inhibitor of congregational and congregant civic engagement among U.S. Latinos? And how does this compare to other religious traditions, specifically Latino Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and Mainline Protestantism? The dissertation argues that Latino Pentecostal congregations, depending on a variety of reasons such as demographics, and pastor's education, can either be very conservative, inward-looking, and otherworldly, or progressive and this-worldly--in addition to other options along this continuum. Such findings are particularly important given the common social scientific research assumption that Latino Pentecostal congregations are generally conservative, inward- looking, and otherworldly.

After surveying a representative sample of Latino Pentecostal churches in Chicago, I found all Latino Pentecostal churches and their congregants are engaged both within the walls of the church and beyond in the community and in society. The difference among the types of churches is not whether they are engaged or not; rather, their differences have to do with their intensity and focus of engagement.

This research confirmed the existence of "traditional" and "progressive" congregations, and the newly emerged "neo-conservative" Pentecostal church. The "traditional" church is the home of the disfranchised of the Latino community, while the other types are quickly becoming the places of worship for the upwardly mobile in the community. "Progressive" congregations are very progressive in all ways except for moral issues (all Latino Pentecostal churches were found to be very religious and very morally conservative), while "neo-conservative" churches are also progressive, but diminishingly so. As expected, "traditional" churches are not the inward-looking and otherworldly churches many people believe them to be. Although they have significant limitations, they are active at all levels of engagement, and, with a few exceptions, rival "progressive" churches in their progressive stances.

In summary, there are different types of Pentecostal congregations and those differences are reflected in their civic engagement behavior. In fact, "Progressive" and "traditional" Latino congregations are not just leaders in civic engagement among Pentecostal but also among Latino churches from all faith traditions.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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