December 18, 2018

Por Ezer R. May May* Vientos de espiritualidades y religiosidades han soplado atravesando los discursos y las formas de hacer política en Latinoamérica. No es nuevo – las dinámicas de las identidades e identificaciones religiosas en el espacio público son los ingredientes que están modificando el ambiente que estamos observando, como en Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brasil y México. Hemos observado la victoria presidencial de Jair Bolsonaro respaldada por la Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios (IURD) liderada por… Read more

December 8, 2018

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut Mexicans will tell you that they are 90 percent Catholic but 100 percent Guadalupan. While the numbers aren’t entirely accurate anymore, it is definitely the case that the Virgin of Guadalupe has been a constituent part of Mexican national identity, reflected in the fact that millions of both women and men are named Guadalupe, many going by the nickname “Lupe,” such as a colleague at the University of Houston, Dr. Guadalupe… Read more

November 28, 2018

Co-authored by Dr. Ana Keila Mosca Pinezi* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut Two factors were decisive in the election of army captain, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, to the presidency – the attack by a knife-wielding assailant and the support of Bishop Edir Macedo, the head of Brazil’s second largest Pentecostal denomination, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. The Evangelical vote, as well as that of conservative Catholics, made the difference in the recent run-off election. With the slogan “Brazil above… Read more

November 21, 2018

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut While many Americans are now familiar with Santa Muerte, her less known paisano or compatriot, fellow Mexican folk saint Jesús Malverde is increasingly visible on both sides of the border. His latest appearance, to the great surprise of many, was in the Brooklyn court where El Chapo Guzman is being tried on multiple accounts of drug trafficking. One of Guzman’s attorneys claimed the 6 inch figure of the mustachioed Sinaloan folk… Read more

November 14, 2018

The interminable drug war in Mexico reveals that the lethal mix of religion and terrorism isn’t peculiar to the Middle East. Mexico is home to the world’s second largest Catholic population and third largest Christian one, behind only the U.S. and Brazil. Just as ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorize several continents in the name of Islam, certain drug cartels have appropriated folk saints and in the case of the Knights Templars (Caballeros Templarios) even created their own. Folk saints, such as Santa… Read more

November 1, 2018

Co-authored by Dr. Andrew Chesnut and David Metcalfe* In the U.S., the Catholic festival of All Hallowed Eve has taken on the darker image of Halloween, with haunted houses, horror movies, and the departed returning for trouble rather than tradition. In Latin America and Europe, where Catholic cultural influences have remained relatively strong, the first and second of November continue to hold their ancient ties to festivals associated with honoring, celebrating and continuing interaction with the dead. In Mexico, before… Read more

October 23, 2018

By guest contributor David Metcalfe* “And therefore, tremble in fear, now, Satan…you corrupter of justice! you begetter of death! you betrayer of the nations! you robber of life! …I adjure you, ancient serpent…” – Father Merrin in The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Throwing caution to the wind last week, Father Gary Thomas, an exorcist assigned to the Archdiocese of San Jose’, danced right out into the devil’s playground – entering the U.S. political fray with a questionable comment on… Read more

October 13, 2018

Authored by guest contributor Dr. Kate Kingsbury* – please note this piece is an abbreviated version of a copyrighted article due to appear in The Small Wars Journal in November 2018, a journal edited by Dr. Robert Bunker Latin America is the most Catholic region on earth and as such religion, unlike in much of the secularised West continues to play a primordial part for the large majority of its inhabitants. Indeed, religion is a coping strategy for negotiating the… Read more

September 29, 2018

I began my academic career as a specialist in religion in Brazil and authored the first book in English on the Pentecostal boom in the country that is now home to the largest Pentecostal population on earth. That Brazil is also home to the largest Catholic population on earth, in addition to the second largest overall Christian community, after the U.S., makes the Latin American giant the epicenter of global Christianity. In the following radio interview with NPR’s Interfaith Voices… Read more

September 23, 2018

Authored by guest contributor Dr. Kate Kingsbury* The Bamiléké of Cameroon have long believed that after the corpses of their ancestors have rotted they can be exhumed and the skulls used to communicate with the spirits of the dead, as well as their godhead, to receive spiritual guidance. Locals have named this form of ancestral worship: La Culte des Crânes, or the Skull Cult. The religious rite, which has necromancy at its fulcrum, is of ancient origin and the Bamiléké… Read more

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