The political role of evangelicalism in Latin American countries: case studies of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
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Evangelicalism is one of the fastest growing religious movements in the world. It has enjoyed massive success in non-Western countries, especially in Latin America where it has had an immense cultural and social impact. Several scholars have argued that in addition to changing the societal landscape in American countries, Evangelicalism has quite powerfully entered the political arena as well. However, the role of religion in Latin American politics is often overlooked, while it actually plays an important part in shaping the country’s policies. The aim of this research is to analyse the political activity of Evangelicals in Latin America between 1980 and 2018. A qualitative study of three countries (Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), where the percentage of Evangelicals in Latin America is the highest, is carried out. To best assess the scope of religious politics in these countries, a comparative method is used. The author has based the analysis on both qualitative sources, such as official documents, and quantitative data from the Latinobarómetro Corporation and the Pew Research Center. The results do not confirm the main hypotheses, as the levels of political activity of Evangelicals are not high in Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua where the percentage of Evangelicals is the largest. There are no existing successful Evangelical parties in these countries. As of religious state leaders, Guatemala is the only case that has had Evangelical presidents (and has one now) but their influence on Evangelical political participation has been disputed. The role of Evangelical umbrella organizations in the country’s legislative process is quite influential in Guatemala and Honduras but not in Nicaragua. Based on this analysis, it can be concluded that Evangelicalism does not have a strong presence in electoral politics. However, in future research, their indirect political influence and noninstitutional political participation could be studied more thoroughly.