By Michael Löwy
The War of Gods traces the intimate relationship between religion, politics and social issues in Latin America over the last three decades, as liberation theology has reinterpreted the vocation of the Catholic Church and as Protestantism has made inroads on traditional Catholic strongholds.
In the 1960s liberation theology addressed itself to the problems of a continent racked by poverty and oppression. Comprising a network of localized communities and pastoral organizations, it soon became something much more than a doctrinal current. Liberationist Christianity defined itself in a multitude of social struggles, particularly in Brazil and Central America. Many of the most momentous events in the continent’s recent history—the Nicaraguan revolution, the development of the PT (Workers’ Party) in Brazil, the tortuous ascent of President Aristide in Haiti and the uprising in Chiapas—have borne witness to the influence of a distinctive liberationist Christianity. Michael Löwy proposes here a new interpretation—inspired by the sociology of culture—both of liberation theology and of the rival religious projects in Latin America.