Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Vatican Scandal and Southern Christianity

Philip Jenkins is an academic who studies the evolution of modern cults and religions and I've pointed to his stuff before. He points out that Christianity now has three "hemispheres", the East, the West, and the South (in the sense of the Global South, i.e. Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia). Jenkins argues that it may seem that the branches of Christianity in these places are a set of disparate sects, they share underlying developing world values and a growing demographic - for example, he's pointed out that in Latin America and even among Latin Americans living in the U.S., people are increasingly uninterested in Catholic, charismatic, Pentecostal or evangelical as opposing labels. Consequently Southern Christianity, although composed of seemingly disparate sects, is emerging as a cohesive political force in the developing world. For one interesting example, red-state American Episcopalians unimpressed with their church's stance on allowing gays as ministers put themselves under the auspices of an African branch of the church that was uninterested in this kind of progress. It's also worth posting the Sarah Palin exorcism again (by a Kenyan minister. Note to minister: come back, it didn't work the first time.)

Jenkins has another good piece in The New Republic about the impact of the Vatican's tomfoolery on its influence in the Global South.

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