During the past half century, Latin America has evolved from a region of political instability and frequent dictatorships into one of elected governments. Although its societies and economies have undergone sweeping changes, high levels of violence have remained a persistent problem. Religious Responses to Violence: Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present offers rich resources to understand how religion has perceived and addressed different forms of violence, from the political and state violence of the 1970s and 1980s to the drug traffickers and youth gangs of today. The contributors offer many fresh insights into contemporary criminal violence and reconsider past interpretations of political violence, liberation theology, and human rights in light of new questions and evidence.
In contrast to many other studies of violence, this book explores its moral dimensions—up close in lived experience—and the real consequences of human agency. Alexander Wilde provides a thoughtful substantive introduction, followed by thematic chapters on "rights," "violence," and case studies of ten countries throughout the region. The book breaks new ground examining common responses as well as differences between Catholic and Evangelical pastoral accompaniment. These new studies focus on the specifically religious character of their responses—how they relate their mission and faith to violence in different contexts—to better understand how and why they have taken action.
"This book makes an important and original contribution to the fields of religion and politics and to the study of human rights and violence in contemporary Latin America. Religion is treated seriously, by authors who really understand it. The book also brings fresh research and a long view to bear on its examination of civil violence and rights. Scholars and students in a range of disciplines—history, anthropology, sociology, political science, and religion—will find this book of great value." —Frances Hagopian, Harvard University
"As the Middle East is today, so was Latin America for decades during the last century, with major stories on every front page and evening news program and with the role of the Church often front and center. Violence pervades much of the region today, especially in Central America, but one hears less of the role of religion now. This volume is a most welcome addition to the study of religion and human rights in the Americas and brings together excellent studies of less covered areas of the recent past and exciting treatments of the new roles of religion in today’s conflict areas." —Tom Quigley, former policy advisor on Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
"A generation or two ago, the image of church people faced with state-sponsored violence in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Central America prompted numerous studies and inspired many to organize and march. This collection sheds new light on those familiar stories and examines the perplexing violence of the present and responses to it, such as pentecostal prison ministry in Brazil and church groups assisting migrants fleeing through Mexico. Each study, whether local, national, or regional, is a treasure; they are enhanced by thematic surveys that bring fresh insight for a new generation of scholars and readers." —Phillip Berryman, author of Religion in the Megacity: Catholic and Protestant Portraits from Latin America