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By Emílio Willems

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Additional info for Followers of the New Faith: Culture Change and the Rise of Protestantism in Brazil and Chile

Sample text

Thus, to the extent that comparisons are made, they refer to Protestants and non-Protestants. A variety of research techniques has been used. The use of secondary materials, although extensive, was preceded by a critical evaluation of the sources as well as the methodological aspects of the various publications quoted in the text. Description of such activities as street-corner proselytism, religious services, the manifestations of spirit possession, performance of healing rites, meetings of religious leaders, and the like is always based on direct observation of these events, either by the author himself or by one or several of his research assistants.

Deprived of political initiative and any semblance of self-government by extreme political centralization, the Latin American masses had grown to expect decisions both petty and important from Spain and Portugal. Political emancipation substi- Page 24 tuted Creoule oligarchies for the King, but the relative position of the subordinate classes failed to change. True enough, revolution as a political instrument was incorporated in the traditional culture, but whenever it was meant to change anything at all it merely became a means to force additional responsibilities upon the central government rather than to implant and develop responsible self-government on a local or regional level.

The logical result of this principle is the acceptance of a "pluralistic" society of divergent creeds. The assumption of institutional fallibility found its logical corollary in the demand that the power of the church be limited. Ecclesiastical absolutism was feared as much as political absolutism. " The role of the state was limited to that of a guarantor of protection and security (Hudson, 1961: 1417 Freedom from clerical domination involved a new role of the laity in the control of church affairs.

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Followers of the New Faith: Culture Change and the Rise of Protestantism in Brazil and Chile by Emílio Willems

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