Religion and Politics in Latin America: Liberation Theology and Christian Democracy

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What drives religious people to act in politics? In Latin America, as in the Middle East, religious belief is a primary motivating factor for politically active citizens. Edward Lynch questions the frequent pitfall of Latin American scholarship--categorizing religious belief as a veil for another interest or as a purview just of churchmen, thereby ignoring its hold over lay people. Challenging this traditional view, Lynch concludes that religious motivations are important in their own right and raises important questions about the relationship between religion and politics in Latin America. Looking at the two most important Catholic lay movements, Liberation Theology and Christian Democracy, Lynch uses Nicaragua and Venezuela as case studies of how religious philosophy has fared when vested with political power. This timely study describes the motivations driving many important political actors. Divided into two parts, Ideologies In Theory and Ideologies In Practice, this volume features a discussion of the theoretical background of two Catholic philosophies. Using Nicaragua and Venezuela as case studies, Lynch finds that Liberation Theology and Christian Democracy are not as different as many scholars think; in fact, there are many parellels. He concludes that both philosophies face their strongest challenge from a revitalized orthodox Catholic social doctrine.