Tending the 'Stolen' Sheep in Latin America's Booming Bible Belt
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From Christianity Today:



Tending the 'Stolen' Sheep in Latin America's Booming Bible Belt
Catholics may be fast converting to Protestantism, but beliefs and maturity vary.
Morgan Lee/ January 23, 2015



For most of the past century, almost all (more than 90%) of Latin Americans were Catholics. But decades of attrition have resulted in a record 1 in 5 Latinos now identifying as Protestants.

Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua lead the way, where Protestants constitute 4 in 10 residents of each nation. But Protestants in those 3 countries diverge on many measures of orthodox belief and practice, according to a detailed survey of 19 Latin American countries and territories by the Pew Research Center.

Guatemala’s Protestants arguably seem the most mature. They are the most likely of all 19 surveyed groups to evangelize weekly (53%), to believe only Christ leads to eternal life (74%), and to exhibit high commitment (75% pray daily, attend services weekly, and consider faith very important). Even their millennials are the most religious (71% are highly committed).

Protestants in Nicaragua and Honduras are more varied. Only 1 in 3 share their faith on a weekly basis. About 6 in 10 are highly committed to church attendance and prayer. On Christianity’s exclusive access to eternal life, only two-thirds of Hondurans and half of Nicaraguans agree. And only 45 percent of Nicaragua’s millennials are highly committed to their faith.

Further, Honduran Protestants are among Latin America’s most syncretistic, with 42 percent exhibiting medium to high engagement with indigenous beliefs and practices (a figure that’s higher than Catholics in most Latin American countries). Nicaraguan Protestants exhibited similarly high levels (35%), but only 24 percent of Guatemalan Protestants are similarly syncretistic.

Demographics don’t explain the differences. On syncretism, for example, only 7 percent of Hondurans are indigenous, while more than 40 percent of Guatemalans are. If indigenous roots led to syncretism, those numbers would be reversed by country.

Education doesn’t solve the puzzle either. Guatemalans rank third among Latin American Protestants for low education levels; only 25 percent have secondary education. But right behind are Hondurans (30%) and Nicaraguans (33%).

Missions also fails to explain it. Approximately 1 in 3 Protestants in Honduras and Nicaragua say their church maintains close ties to US churches. Yet only 22 percent of Guatemalans say the same.

One possible remaining explanation: quick versus slow growth. In 1996, a quarter of Guatemalans identified as Protestant. But Honduras and Nicaragua didn’t see steady Protestant growth until 1997 and 1999, respectively, according to Chilean pollster Latinobarómetro. Honduras crossed the 25 percent mark in 2 years, in 1999; Nicaragua did so in 2003.

Kurt Ver Beek, director of Calvin College’s Honduras Program, questions the idea that Honduran Protestants practice a less mature faith than their Guatemalan counterparts. He believes the differences found by Pew have more to do with the different emphases of the oldest and largest Protestant denominations and their media.

"Those topics may just have been preached on harder [in Guatemala]," said Ver Beek, noting many Honduran churches place a larger emphasis on not smoking, drinking, or dancing.

Guatemala does have more megachurches than the other countries, says Todd Hartch, author of The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity. "When churches get to this size, they can have schools, conferences, radio stations, and TV shows."

But size and familiarity bring liabilities, too. "In a sense, the ‘maturing’ [in Guatemala] has brought with it the loss of the energy of youth," said Denver Seminary’s Daniel Carroll Rodas. He is concerned that recent pastor scandals could derail public witness. "The moral respect...clearly isn’t there like it used to be."

Protestants might not stay so successful at “stealing sheep” from Catholics, says Ver Beek, since Catholic leaders now engage more with young people, recruit more local leadership, and offer more in-depth Bible studies and community outreach.

“The extreme growth in the Protestant churches has pushed the Catholic Church to ultimately become more active,” he said. “Good and exciting things are happening.”

Vox Wrote:Good! Now give them also traditional liturgical rites, sound catechesis, beautiful devotions and traditions, lots of community activities, ways to serve others, and all that other good stuff!

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#2
Basically the hierarchy only cares about Catholics when they threat to leave en masse for Protestant cults? It becomes increasingly hard to blame Protestants for Catholics mistakes.

Last week the Archbishop of S. Paul (who is also a cardinal) gave communion (in the hands, of course) to the mayor, who not only is a communist but also an Eastern Orthodox.
How on Earth can one take this guy seriously? The Church in Latin America is a joke. There's no life in it (not to mention when there's outright will of destruction among some “youth”) outside some small groups.

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#3
(01-28-2015, 09:20 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Basically the hierarchy only cares about Catholics when they threat to leave en masse for Protestant cults? It becomes increasingly hard to blame Protestants for Catholics mistakes.

Last week the Archbishop of S. Paul (who is also a cardinal) gave communion (in the hands, of course) to the mayor, who not only is a communist but also an Eastern Orthodox.
How on Earth can one take this guy seriously? The Church in Latin America is a joke. There's no life in it (not to mention when there's outright will of destruction among some “youth”) outside some small groups.

Do you see any cause for hope in Latin America or is this move towards protestantism looking like it's going to continue for a long time?  Is tradition as enshrined in various Latin Mass communities vibrant there? How wreckovated are the cathedrals and churches there? I'm just curious.
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(01-28-2015, 09:41 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote:
(01-28-2015, 09:20 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Basically the hierarchy only cares about Catholics when they threat to leave en masse for Protestant cults? It becomes increasingly hard to blame Protestants for Catholics mistakes.

Last week the Archbishop of S. Paul (who is also a cardinal) gave communion (in the hands, of course) to the mayor, who not only is a communist but also an Eastern Orthodox.
How on Earth can one take this guy seriously? The Church in Latin America is a joke. There's no life in it (not to mention when there's outright will of destruction among some “youth”) outside some small groups.

Do you see any cause for hope in Latin America or is this move towards protestantism looking like it's going to continue for a long time?  Is tradition as enshrined in various Latin Mass communities vibrant there? How wreckovated are the cathedrals and churches there? I'm just curious.

I really don't know. There are strong Catholics but they are almost without support from the hierarchy.

If things keep going the way they are I suspect Protestantism will rise, mainly because since most folks don't have a knowledge of their own tradition and are ill-formed and tend to view that all is the same thing (and the important thing is to have God independently of “religion”), and because Protestantism is an easier religion (unbridled sex, no confession, no guilt, no asceticism, no penance) and in the Latin American form is one that is magical—it promises a lot of wealth and health and gives one cheap psychological comfort.
Many of these conversions are only from people who were only baptized in the Church, but had no life in Her (though, admittedly, there are exceptions; but I doubt they add much, statistically). I suspect we will see this growth happening again in the newer generations, as it becomes increasingly harder to pass the faith to the children. Liberalism always works in favour of Protestantism, as, again, it is an easier religion and so its easier to accommodate sins to it while remaining faithful to it. And things are getting pretty rough. The decadency is almost unbelievable.

The crisis in vocation might change this dynamics a bit. The new priests tend to be better. So, if not all the Church at least the strong Catholics might get stronger (after all, haven't Jesus said that He would take away from those who just “buried their talents” and give more to those who were industrious for the Master?).
Also, a somewhat counter-cultural push is getting stronger, so some breathing space in the culture could be created within some generations that would favour the Church.

As to the Cathedrals, in the older cities they were not destroyed, and still we have some pretty good churches. The problem are the newer constructions (consider the old Cathedral of Rio, and the new—amazing difference, another faith altogether—but the old building they have TLM every Sunday, so something good came out of moving the bishop's chair from there).

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(01-28-2015, 09:20 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Basically the hierarchy only cares about Catholics when they threat to leave en masse for Protestant cults? It becomes increasingly hard to blame Protestants for Catholics mistakes.

I was just going to say, why do the churchmen start to care about their flock only when they're in danger or losing them? People need spiritual sustenance, and it's the clergy's one and ONLY job to provide it.
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#6
It's not always the Protestants the Church is losing out to. Interestingly, Guatemala has a very fast-growing Orthodox population, usually by absorbing schismatic Catholic groups; somewhere between 4 and 8 percent of the population is either Eastern or Oriental Orthodox, making it the most Orthodox country in the Western Hemisphere by a considerable margin (if the self-reported numbers are believed, the Orthodox of all jurisdictions are just 1.3% of the US population; many researchers put the number much lower, around 0.3%). The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch received 800,000 former adherents of the "Renewed Ecumenical Catholic Church" in 2013.
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#7
(01-28-2015, 11:49 AM)aquinas138 Wrote: It's not always the Protestants the Church is losing out to. Interestingly, Guatemala has a very fast-growing Orthodox population, usually by absorbing schismatic Catholic groups; somewhere between 4 and 8 percent of the population is either Eastern or Oriental Orthodox, making it the most Orthodox country in the Western Hemisphere by a considerable margin (if the self-reported numbers are believed, the Orthodox of all jurisdictions are just 1.3% of the US population; many researchers put the number much lower, around 0.3%). The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch received 800,000 former adherents of the "Renewed Ecumenical Catholic Church" in 2013.


I was thinking of that actually. Interesting.

Here is a 2009 article on the subject.

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/31235.htm


And wow, the difference between the old and the new cathedrals in Rio are stunning, the former looks like what one would expect of a Latin American cathedral, the latter like a post apocalyptic Tower of Babel!
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#8
Remember when Bl. Paul VI forced South American countries to accept religious liberty?

If heresy is murder of the soul, then I guess this constitutes a spiritual genocide. Anywhere between 60-100 million South Americans apostatized since 1970.

Who needs eternal life when these fat, gluttonous Americans going on vacations paid for by their CIA supported mega-church  err-uggh what I meant to say is... who needs eternal life when these horizontally challenged American missionaries promise you money here on Earth?! Believe in JAY-ZUZ and become a millionaire! Yeeeeeehaw cowboy!

The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan John, who had connections and intelligence from the KGB, exposed how the CIA promotes the Capitalist religion through protestant missionaries.

This is worse than every 20th century genocide combined. Losing your body is a tragedy but losing your soul is an eternal tragedy.

[Image: PR_14.11.13_latinAmerica-overview-19.png]
[Image: PR_14.11.13_latinAmerica-overview_revised3-00.png]
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#9
I fear that this would be our country's destiny. A Catholic region being overcome by Pottystants.

N.
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