May 13, 2021

By Guest Contributor Dr. Kate Kingsbury* Across Mexico people are turning to miraculous holy healers for protection and healing from Coronavirus, while Santa Muerte as we have detailed is being prayed to for sacred sanation so is a rather more juvenile character who despite wearing extra small size clothing is said locally to be incredibly powerful. Holy Child Doctor of the Sick known as el Niño Doctor is one of the multiple manifestations of the Christ Child in Mexico and… Read more

May 11, 2021

Co-authored by Dr. Ana Keila Mosca Pinezi* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut One of the lamentable new trends on the dynamic religious landscape of Brazil is Pentecostal intolerance and even persecution of its religious rivals. Over the past five decades Pentecostalism has mushroomed in the South American giant to the point that now Brazil is not only home to the largest Catholic population on the planet but also the biggest Pentecostal one. Before the Pentecostal boom, which Chesnut has studied throughout… Read more

March 20, 2021

By guest contributor Dr. Robert Chesnut* I was working on my divinity degree at Harvard in the early 1960s when stories began to circulate about LSD experiments being conducted in the university’s psychology department. Under the direction of professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, some of my fellow theological students and a group of prison inmates were rumored to be among the experiments’ subjects. Transcendental spiritual experiences and the rehabilitation of hardened criminals were said to be among the early… Read more

February 10, 2021

By guest contributor Dr. Alejandro Díaz-Domínguez* This analysis originally appeared in the Nexos online blog “Data Workshop” (Taller de Datos) as “¿Qué nos dice el Censo 2020 sobre religión en México?” available in Spanish here ( Special thanks to the Nexos editors for kindly accepting the reproduction of this essay, and Professor Andrew Chesnut for publishing this translation.  On January 25, the results of Mexico’s 2020 Population and Housing Census were released. The first figures that attracted the most attention… Read more

October 21, 2020

Jointly authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury*, David B. Metcalfe**, and Dr. Andrew Chesnut The season of death is upon us. October is here impending Halloween with its cavalcade of crones, ghosts and goblins together with the Catholic holy days of All Saints and All Souls, known in Latin America as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd. Included in these fall festivals are two familiar faces whose skeletal visages afford them special attention during… Read more

October 4, 2020

“The Bible returns to the presidential palace.” That’s what the Bolivian interim President Jeanine Áñez stated at her inauguration last November. Her turbulent administration is met with a lot of resistance from the ‘left’, but enjoys plenty of support from the Evangelical churches which are rapidly gaining ground throughout Latin America. The presidents of Mexico and Brazil were elected with explicit support from Evangelical churches. The political and religious landscapes of Latin America are shifting rapidly. A proud Catholic church stands on the… Read more

August 28, 2020

  By Dr. Kate Kingsbury and Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut Since what is now the fastest growing new religious movement which centers on the Mexican folk saint of death went public in 2001 it has faced a formidable foe in the Catholic Church. However the latest crusade against Santa Muerte, dubbed by Mexican clergy  “a macabre symbol of the drug trade” and a “satanic cult”, comes from Evangelical Protestants. They have also been inveighing against Santa Muerte for many years… Read more

July 30, 2020

Co-authored by Dr. Andrew Chesnut and Dr. Kate Kingsbury* Glaringly absent from most of the news stories on the notorious Houston-based physician and pastor Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has gone viral for her recent endorsement by President Trump, is her religious affiliation.Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a video in which Dr. Immanuel as part of the insidious cabal of physicians “America’s Frontline Doctors” promoted hydroxychloroquine as an efficacious treatment for COVID-19 and questioned the effectiveness of masks… Read more

July 25, 2020

During the second half of the 19th century in the mountain towns of New Mexico and southern Colorado, Mexican-American Catholics personified death as a female skeletal figure known as both Doña Sebastiana and Comadre Sebastiana. “Comadre” has no direct English translation but is what one calls the godmother of their own child. Sebastiana, as will be examined in detail, derives from the male saint, Sebastian, the Roman martyr. Holy Week processions organized by the Penitentes, Catholic brotherhoods originating in Spain… Read more

June 28, 2020

First published by Oxford University Press in 2012 with the second edition in 2017, my book Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint has been translated into both Spanish and Polish and now the Turkish edition is forthcoming this summer with Ganesha Press of Ankara. To that end I asked my research partner, Dr. Kate Kingsbury,* an Oxford-trained anthropologist of religion at the University of Alberta, to write the foreword for the Turkish edition. Dr. Kingsbury and I have… Read more

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