Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society

Praise for Arlene Sanchez Walsh’s book, Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society

Submitted by David Ramos


Arlene Sanchez Walsh

"Sanchez Walsh constructs a trenchant history while maintaining rigorous analysis. Separating the rhetoric of easy accommodation from the history of Latino subordination and gender inequity within these churches, she challenges readers to understand Pentecostalism as one route to empowerment and social engagement that U.S. Latinos have made their own while preserving a sense of ethnic difference."
—Benjamin Ortiz, In These Times

"Sanchez Walsh thus fills a huge gap in the literature by describing the living, and often tension-ridden terrain of Pentecostal faith as it is actually experienced by Latinos."
Books and Culture

"Previous studies have ignored both spiritual diversity among Latinos and ethnic diversity among Pentecostals, making Latino Pentecostals a seeming oxymoron. Through meticulous archival, ethnographic, and survey research, Sánchez Walsh offers rich insight into how religious conversion need not mean cultural assimilation. From Azusa Street to Christian rap, she documents how Latinos have long been part of Pentecostal ministry yet able to maintain separate spaces within the movement. This persuasive work will compel scholars to reconsider their understandings of what it means to be Latino as well as what it means to be Pentecostal."
—Peter S. Cahn

Assistant Professor of AnthropologyUniversity, University of Oklahoma and author of All Religions Are Good in Tzintzuntzan: Evangelicals in Catholic Mexico

"This work provides a synthesis of much of what is known and available about Mexican American Pentecostalism, and views the topic through the crucial lenses of race, gender, institutions and power relations….By examining what is occuring at the margins of Pentecostalism, Sanchez Walsh contributes to the current revisioning of evangelical history and opens up a vista onto a more complex Pentecostal history. The fieldwork material is quite rich."
—Rudy Busto, assistant professor, Latino & Asian American Religions, University of California at Santa Barbara

"At last! The story of Mexican American pentecostalism told from its beginnings. Drawing on documents, oral histories and informal surveys, and traversing the Latin American Bible Institute, the Assemblies of God, Victory Outreach, and the Vineyard, Sánchez Walsh shows that Latino Pentecostals must be understood on their own terms, not as ex-Catholic converts but heirs to a century-old movement."
—R. Stephen Warner, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Clearly and crisply written… This volume provides many important insights into the rapidly growing Latino Pentecostal World."
—John T. Ford, Religious Studies Review

"A book that belongs on the shelf of any scholar of Pentecostalism and any scholar of ethnicity and religion."
—Sarah Stohlman, Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Of the thirty-seven million Latinos living in the United States, nearly five million declare themselves to be either Pentecostal or Charismatic, and more convert every day. Latino Pentecostal Identity examines the historical and contemporary rise of Pentecostalism among Latinos, their conversion from other denominations, and the difficulties involved in reconciling conflicts of ethnic and religious identity. The book also looks at how evangelical groups encourage the severing of ethnic ties in favor of spiritual community and the ambivalence Latinos face when their faith fails to protect them from racial discrimination.

Latinos are not new to Pentecostalism; indeed, they have been becoming Pentecostal for more than a hundred years. Thus several generations have never belonged to any other faith. Yet, as Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh articulates, the perception of adherents as Catholic converts persists, eliding the reality of a specific Latino Pentecostal population that both participates in the spiritual and material culture of the larger evangelical Christian movement and imprints that movement with its own experiences. Focusing on three groups of Latino Pentecostals/Charismatics—the Assemblies of God, Victory Outreach, and the Vineyard—Sánchez Walsh considers issues such as the commodification of Latino evangelical culture, the Latinization of Pentecostalism, and the ways in which Latino Pentecostals have differentiated themselves from the larger Latino Catholic culture. Extensive fieldwork, surveys, and personal interviews inform her research and show how, in an overwhelmingly Euro-American denomination, diverse Latino faith communities—U.S. Chicano churches, pan–Latin American immigrant churches, and mixed Latin American and U.S. Latino churches—have carved out their own unique religious space.


El Aposento Alto
Workers for the Harvest: LABI and the Institutionalization of a Latino Pentecostal Identity
"Normal Church Can’t Take Us": Victory Outreach and the Re-Creating of a Latino Pentecostal Identity
"Slipping Into Darkness": G.A.N.G. and the Making of a Latino Evangelical Youth Culture
"Worlds Apart": The Vineyard, La Vina, and the American Evangelical Subculture

About the Author

Arlene M. Sánchez Walsh is an assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul University.

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