Latin America: History of People and Religion from 16th Century to Present
A glimpse into the work of God and the people from
16th Century to Present
The Tupac Line
TupacAmaru (1545 – 1572): The Peruvian Inca
state’s last native ruler
TupacAmaru II (born José Gabriel Condorcanqui,
1742 – 1781): Peruvian leader of Indians in a revolt
against the Spanish
TupacKatari (born JuliánApasa Nina, c. 1750 –
1781): Leader in Bolivian struggles against the Spanish
Born José Gabriel Condorcanqui in 1742
Direct descendent of Incan ruler TupacAmaru
Attended Jesuit school, held political position with influence
Dissatisfied with rights of natives
• Native Indians in forced labor
• Inequitable trading and taxes imposed on Indians
• Blamed the church as much as the government
anti-colonial uprising in 1780
•Arriaga, Governor of Tintan executed
• Indian rebels gain numbers, lose control
TupacAmaru II beheaded 1781, revolt continued
Definition: lineage/breed/race from Latin castus,
or ―chaste,‖ pointing to lineage ―purity‖
A Spanish colonial concept, used of postConquest mixed races for social control
People of mixed race were called ―castas‖
De negro eindia, sale lobo
―From an African man and a native woman, a lobo is born.‖ Term based on the idea that character is related to
Several categories existed:
espanole* peninsular * criollo * indio*
mestizo * mulatto * zambo
Spanish state and Church exacted more
taxes/tribute from people of ―lower‖ categories
Showed ―exoctic‖ racial combination in Spanish
16 paintings showing 16 combination
Displayed the racial thought among the
Spanish supremacy is the main theme
Biased against Africans
For officials socio-economic status depended on skin
color and limpieza de sangre (purity of blood)
Small Pox in Latin America,
What is small pox?
How did it get to Latin America?
• Airborne virus * thrives in dense
communities * presents as pustules, which
release infectious smallpox DNA into the
air nearby surfaces when punctured *
12-day incubation period, by which point
host’s either died or survived * others can
become infected during incubation
• Eurasian domestic animal infections
crossed over humans * Europeans
increasingly immune * smallpox thought
to have arrived in the Americas in 1520
and spread via Incan roads * 60-94% of
Incans wiped out from the time of
smallpox’s arrival until 1618, with
epidemics like typhus, influenza,
diphtheria and measles
Evaluating Small Pox Then Now
Why was the New World susceptible? What were the health and political
• People coming to the New World had not
domesticated their animals * viral animal
infections had not yet had a chance to
crossover to humans
• European smallpox had devastated Incas
before Pizarro’s arrival in 1526, killing the
Incan emperor Huayna Capac and
unleashing a civil war that distracted and
weakened his successor, Atahuallpa.
Brief Case Study of the Guarani
First Established Jesuit Community
Politics and Church during Independence in
Latin American Countries
Liberal or Conservative governments
Roman Catholic Church
• Colonial institution survived independence
• Power: wealth, education, access
Countries by date of independence
Owned 80% of land in some provinces of New Spain
Real wealth came from mortgages and interest collected
Prestige from education and involvement in politics
Masses had more contact with Church than officials
Conflict between Catholic Church and Latin American Chiefs
Vatican II Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World
Latin American theologians developed a doctrine base on Luke 4:18-21
• ―We wish to personify the Christ of a poor and hungry people.‖
Bishops prioritized social justice, inform masses
Christian Base Communities
Priests joined the government
• Sandinista government in Nicaragua improve quality of life due to
Liberation Theology in Action
Theology crucial adversary to right-wing
governments during 1970s and 1980s
• Archbishop Oscar Romero: El Salvador
• Brazil: (1968-1978) 120 bishops, priests, and
nuns arrested, 300 Catholic lay workers, too
Not all leaders in Catholic church approved
Archbishop Oscar Romero
In Depth Glimpse into Guatemala
Important Historical Religious
Moments in Guatemala
History of religion in Guatemala
16thcentury to Present
• Spain begins expeditions in 1519
• Bartolome De Las Casas in 1537
• Dominican Friar
• Personal transformation in 1514
• Success largely do to
1. Non coercive evangelism
2. Catholicism as an extension of other
Guatemala gained her independence from Spain on Sept. 15, 1821
• British Protestant missionaries
• Arrives in 1843 and begins a
• Lorenzo Montufer
• Expelled in 1846
• Uphill battle for Protestants
Justo Rufino Barrios elected President in 1873
• Declaration of Liberty of Worship
• Escorted in Presbyterian missionary John Carl Hill and encourages
• 1937 Protestants made up 2% of Guatemala population
While this opened the door Protestants still struggled
in a predominantly Catholic nation.
1960 – Guatemala entered a Civil War that lasted until 1996
1970s 1980s – Civil War continued. Thousands lost their lives due to a massive earthquake in
Reasons for Protestant growth
1. Growing suspicion of government toward possible Catholic ties to guerilla
Protestants seen as a more safe tradition.
2. Missionaries sent to give aid to those suffering from the violence of the civial war and
1990s – Civil war ended in 1996 and brought a more stable government.
Current Religious Condition
14 million live in Guatemala
Present obstacles to Protestant Evangelism
1. Rural Indian populations
2. Syncretism – combining Christianity with Indigenous faith
3. Drug, Alcohol, and Violence
4. Lack of Biblical teaching
Catholicism in Spanish America
Nineteenth Century brought multiple attempts to restore Church hierarchy
in Spanish America
Catholic Church assumed a privileged status, prohibited all other faiths
1852: Concordat signed by Cardinal-Secretary Antonelli and de Lorenzana
and ratified by president Carrera recognizing Roman Catholicism as State
religion of Guatemala, first in Latin America
Vatican I: Efforts made to better connect Latin American Church to Rome,
local power granted in making church appointments
Catholicism enjoyed relatively short lived dominance in
Guatemala as liberalism grew
Rufino Barrios became Guatemalan President in 1873
Anti-clerical and liberal agenda: expelled religious orders, closed
convents, secularized cemeteries and established civil marriage,
Churches not allowed to own property, promoted public education,
Thought Protestants would bring liberal ideas to Guatemala and
help to weaken Catholicism in country
1879: New constitution formally incorporated Barrios’ anticlerical reform
1884: President Barrios invited missionary John C. Hill to
Guatemala from Presbyterian Board of Missions in NYC, organized
first Presbyterian church in Guatemala, ironically President Barrios
made land adjacent to presidential palace available
1899: Central American Mission entered Guatemala, known as a
radical dispensationalist movement based out of Texas, gave Central
America a radical dispensationalist image
Church and State
20th Century brought further debate between church and state
1945: Guatemalan Constitution banned Church involvement in labor
1955: Ban lifted but most of Latin America under conservative military rule
fearing that Liberation Theologians too much like Communists
Pentecostalism rose, in 1982 leader Efrain Rios Montt overthrew the
Guatemalan government and ruled with an emphasis on individual
responsibility and ―Christian ideals‖
1954: Liberalism overthrown by military coup, in part supported by US government
50 years of civil war, tens of thousands killed including Indian towns and villages,
1980’s Catholic priests and others working for social justice in Guatemala were
violently forced out of country during the era of President Montt(a Pentecostalist)
which coincided with American televangelist movement
Traditional Mayan culture and Catholic influence were all but eliminated in an effort to
replace with religious culture of the televangelists in the American Bible Belt
Guatemala today continues to pick up the pieces but is nearly split down the middle of
Protestants and Catholics
Bringing hope to a broken and unforgotten
Culture a combination of Mayan and Spanish colonial heritage.
Vast diversity of ethnicities 21 different languages.
Indigenous traditional, religious and social customs.
Industry rich tradition of textiles and handcrafts.
52 percent of the population is engaged in agricultural work
• In 1996, emerged from a 36-year-long civil
• The ―dry corridor,‖ 54,000 go hungry daily.
• Chronic hunger for children (49.8%) highest
in the region and the fourth highest in the world.
• 75 %fall below poverty line.
• Illiteracy, infant maternal mortality and starvation are
the highest in this region.
• Infectious diseases complicate the problem.
Guatemala Slides: Early Missionary Work, Catholicism, Protestant Efforts Reintroduced, Church and
State, Civil War (Created by Eileen Gathman)
• Cook, Guillermo, ed. New Face of the Church in Latin America.Orbis Books: NY, 1994.
• Gonzales, Justo L. and Ondina E. Gonzales. Christianity in Latin America. Cambridge: NY, 2008.
• Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity.Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1999.
• Koschorke, Klaus, Frieder Ludwig, Mariano Delgado, ed. A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America 1450•
1990.Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 2007.
Norma, Edward. Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1981.
Guatemala Slides: History of Religion, Crowe, Barrios, 20th Century events, current statistics
(Created by Aaron Strietzel)
Guatemala Slides: Poverty, Culture and Social Evangelism (Created by Oscar Merlo)
• Vargas, Carlos. Dreams are Cheap: Paying the Price and Leading with Passion.PuntoCreativo: Zacapa, Guatemala 2013
Slides about TupacAmaru II, Independence, Liberation Theology (Created by Sarah Merchant)
• Charlip, Julie A. and E. Bradford Burns. Latin America And Interpretive History 9th Ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.
• Holloway, Thomas H. A Companion to Latin American History. Edited by TH Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
• Koschorke, Klaus, Frieder Ludwig and Mariano Delgado. A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America 1450-1990:
A Documentary Sourcebook. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007.
Lamothe, Matthew R. While the English colonies fought for independence, TupacAmaru waged a people's war in Peru.
Military History 19, no. 4 (October 2002): 74. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 1, 2013).
Slides about Tupac Lineage, Small Pox,Castas (Researched by Maggie Sullivan, created by Sarah
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Slides about Guarani(Created by Mike Basile)
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Nativity mural at Batahola Norte Community Center in Managua, Nicaragua.
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