Masked Africanisms: Puerto Rican Pentecostalism

By Juan Carlos Morales

Masked Africanisms: Puerto Rican Pentecostalism

With Masked Africanisms: PuertoRican Pentecostalism, Dr. Samuel Cruz has provided a gift and a valuable academic resource for anyone interested in the Latino church in general and Latino Pentecostals in particular.  The dearth of research and material on Latino Pentecostalism, particularly from a sociological perspective makes this work all the more important. 

While being a significant contribution to the academy with keen insight, helpful footnotes and an extensive bibliography, the readability of Masked Africanisms adds to its value by making it accessible to many religious leaders in the Latino community whose collective ministries impact the majority of the Protestant, Latino community. It is critical that the Latino, religious leadership obtain historical and sociological understandings of the Pentecostal movement and the Latino experience within it.  It is just as critical that within those understandings there be a wide scope of perspectives, which Dr. Cruz has accomplished with this work.

Masked Africanisms begins by providing a general overview of the origins of Pentecostalism and of the Latino involvement in those origins.  Dr. Cruz follows the movement of Pentecostalism to

Puerto Rico

and the Northeast.  In its exploration of the journeys of key Latino Pentecostal Fathers such as Juan Lugo and Fransisco Olazabal, Masked Africanisms mentions their involvement in the struggle for civil rights.  Hopefully, knowing this legacy will help re-stimulate a consciousness for a holistic ministry approach within the readership.

Masked Africanisms also provides a less-known, yet equally needed overview of the African roots in Pentecostalism and in PuertoRican culture, society and religion; the latter through the Carribean slave trade and the former through the slave trade in North America.  Dr. Cruz makes the case that Pentecostalism was bound to flourish in the PuertoRican community precisely because both had internalized elements of African culture.

Specifically, Dr. Cruz discusses the repetition of short songs or coritos, the use of the entire body in worship, shaking or dancing “in the spirit”, openness to the ideas of spiritual possession, good or bad, being spiritually led in an intimate way, glossolalia, miracles, as the PuertoRican Pentecostal connections with “Africanisms”. 

It should be noted that Dr. Cruz is not claiming that these elements derived exclusively from


.  He points out that some of these elements have existed in other cultures and times as the Biblical record shows.  What he is claiming is that their being a significant part of African culture that was already internalized in PuertoRican culture allowed for that community to be open to these elements, to understand their importance and to give them emphasis in their own expression when they encountered the Pentecostalism.


  1. Hey JC! Long time! Thanks for making us aware of this book. Sounds wonderful.Why does the name Sam Cruz sound familiar to me? I did a presentation at Dr. Susan Johnson Cook’s Women in Ministry Conf on the Afro-Latino Connection I wish I would have had this book at that time. But I am definitely putting it on my wishlist at Amazon. Gracias.

  2. Hola JC,
    It was good hanging with you yesterday at the luncheon at LPAC. It’s also awesome that you’ve posted. I know it was a long time coming…I’m definetely picking this book up. I got to meet Pastor Sam through my work with Trinity Lutheran Church.

  3. Hey JC,
    Where can I get the book. It doesn’t seem like it’s on Amazon.

  4. Tania Stanchich

    The Masked Africanisms book can be found at the Kendall Hunt website–look under samuel cruz.

  5. It’s on the wish list. Thanks for pointing us to this great resource

  6. This sounds like a very interesting book. I hope to buy it and see what insights the author has on this topic.
    Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani

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