American society is characterized by many immigrants of different races who have made their homes in the U.S. Although the U.S. has been applauded for being the destination for many immigrants, especially those from war zones, little has been done to ensure the immigrants’ wellbeing. Over the years, concerns have been raised over the number of immigrants and their impact on resources and social support. Although racial segregation may not have received public attention in the recent past, immigrants have been subjected to health inequalities over the years, contributing to poor living conditions among non-US-born citizens. This essay discusses inequality, immigration, and health in America, focusing on the preferential treatment of different races in the U.S., and shows that minorities have been economically, politically, and socially segregated.
Inequality arises from unequal treatment of individuals due to specific defining characters. For centuries, humanity has been differentiated regarding skin color, gender, geographical location, and other factors. From the era of the French revolution, when proponents of liberté, égalité, and fraternité took the left side of the very first Assemblée Nationale, inequality has been a defining feature of the left-right political continuum (Brown 1507). On the one hand, left-wingers have long contended that capitalism breeds economic inequality, which may be combated by collaborative socio-economic and political initiatives (Brown 1509). These have understood the heavy impact of inequalities on all dimensions of society. On the other hand, right-wingers have argued that inequalities are simply the result of inherent distinctions between people or social groupings, with which people should not interfere.
Today, inequity is a serious issue, and it has been proven that having constricted social hierarchies impacts population health. Indeed, a slew of social ills, like criminal activity, have been connected to strong social gradients. Understanding the current state of subjective treatment is crucial for addressing such social issues (Jett 50). People of specific racial-cultural groups experience disparities in resources, influence, and perceived human value globally. Some researchers who have studied ancient history and human philosophy have speculated that racial disparity is attributed to races gaining preferential power through larger populations and financial opportunities (Jett 50). Because of these benefits, Europeans easily acquired superior weapons and equipment, making it simple to subjugate minority communities. Social inequality is rampant in the U.S., mainly affecting minorities and immigrants.
By controlling the less fortunate people, the majority groups of persons in positions of considerable power reinforced racial inequity. These groupings were frequently separated along racial and ethnic lines. Those structures of racial injustice have been sustained in current times by social forces. Racial inequality alludes to a racial hierarchy in which white Europeans have held the top spot and people of color have occupied the bottom place in America (Brown 1509). Typically, this structure has served to keep whites out of positions of authority and better educational, career, and income chances. It also assured that people from lower socio-economic classes were ready to undertake “society’s dirty job” for little pay. This situation is explicitly discussed by Brown in his “Racial stratification” theme on America’s society (1510). Segregation on the basis of color and origin is at a high level in the U.S., as demonstrated in the healthcare, immigration, and justice departments.
The justice department is entrusted with the correction and rehabilitation of wrongdoers for society’s benefit. However, many have failed to note that people of color and immigrants often receive harsh treatment or lack equal opportunities for work and social involvement after incarceration. Western addresses inequality in the political and socio-economic dimensions with a particular focus on the U.S. penal code (34). Although the American prison system has been in existence for decades, the last twenty years have led to an exponential increase in prisons and the number of prisoners. According to Western, people of color are estimated to be up to eight times more likely to be imprisoned compared to their European counterparts (30). Researchers have found a link between imprisonment rates and the level of education, with the uneducated men, who are mostly minority groups, falling victims more often than the Europeans (Western 30). This point also indicates the high level of inequality in access to education.
In many cases, a rise in criminal activities translates to a high imprisonment rate. However, Western notes that although the crime rate did not increase significantly in the mid-nineteenth century, the number of minorities being imprisoned increased at a high rate (32). In addition, lack of education and unemployment have been cited as the major drivers for criminal activities in the U.S. Research shows that African-Americans and Hispanics were less likely to find good jobs within the U.S., explaining why most of them were arrested (Western 32). Today, most minorities find it hard to land employment after incarceration, leading to poor living conditions. In essence, the correctional institution that was meant to contribute to social wellbeing has resulted in increased systemic racism and inequalities.
Every day, almost 70,000 immigrants travel to the United States. The majority of these visitors are not permanent residents. Over 60,000 foreigners are received at airport terminals and border checks as tourists, merchants, students, or expatriates (Martin and Midgley 3). Immigrants who have been accepted to become legal citizens of the United States arrive at a rate of about 2,200 each day, and roughly 5,000 foreigners enter the country illegally every day (Martin and Midgley 3). Since it is the border patrol’s duty to ensure the safety of all Americans, about
Four thousand foreigners are detained when they cross the border between the United States and Mexico (Martin and Midgley 4). From the statistics, it is evident that America has had an immigration heritage. However, citizens have expressed concerns over the impact of the high immigration rates on the country’s social, economic, and political situations.
Over the years, potential criminal activities have been prevented through thorough border checks. In an attempt to unravel this issue, Martin and Midgley question whether Americans should be wary of the escalating immigration rates or welcome them (4). In summary, Americans are depicted as individuals with a right to safety, thus necessitating strict border regulations since the citizens should be concerned over the disruption of their cultures in the long run. However, America’s immigration department has been accused of rampant, systemic racism that mainly affects minorities.
It is worth noting that U.S. history has been founded on racial discrimination in regard to immigration. In 1790, the first United States Congress passed legislation stating that only “free white persons” of “good character” were able to live and work in the U.S. (Brown 1520). The Chinese Exclusion Act, approved by Congress in 1882, prohibited Chinese individuals from crossing the border (Brown 1520). Jett points out that America has tried to justify its racist immigration rules by citing economic concerns (55). President Hoover exploited Mexican Americans as culprits during the Economic Depression, deporting as many as 1.8 million Mexican immigrants, the bulk of whom were citizens of the United States (Brown 1521).
Immigrants find it challenging to find meaningful employment opportunities, but those who do are expected to pay taxes. According to Jett (58), undocumented immigrants contribute well over $11 billion in corporate taxes every year, but they are ineligible for many tax incentives that would benefit their American-born children’s health and wellbeing. Minorities were also excluded from the first COVID-19 recovery legislation owing to these constraints. The past and recent data show that immigrants have been segregated both at the entry points and within the U.S. borders.
Health is an essential factor in human sustenance, determining the quality and longevity of life. In a developed country, such as the U.S., healthcare has been improved to facilitate the development of a healthy society for the nation’s sustainable development goals. However, systemic inequalities in health coverage have limited immigrants and minorities from accessing quality health services. According to Singh et al., this national health program in preventative medicine lacks statistics that clearly target the healthcare of U.S. immigrants, although reducing health disparities among different socio-demographic groups is the prime aim (2). There are significant disparities in healthcare availability and accessibility between foreigners and native-born citizens (Singh 3). Acculturation, which is sloppily evaluated by the length of time spent in a country since immigration, takes a critical part in changing the social, psychosocial, and health attributes of immigrants. This situation has contributed to a significant decline in minorities’ health and wellbeing, leading to a higher mortality rate.
Although health disparities have been ignored most of the time, the coronavirus (COVID-19) global epidemic has exposed severe health disparities in the American culture that have existed for decades. There is a close connection between cultures, politics, and healthcare. Krouse’s research shows that the demographics most likely to face disparities in disease burden, universal healthcare, and patient outcomes include blacks, Mexicans, American Indians, and immigrants (65). Consistently, national and local COVID-19 figures show that blacks have considerably higher mortality rates.
With the availability of universal healthcare programs, Medicaid and Medicare, one would expect Americans to be among the healthiest people globally. However, research shows that inappropriate policies have made the American population among the least healthy (Krouse 65). As demonstrated during the pandemic, immigrants and minorities were not prioritized for vaccination. Jett also notes that with the rise of COVID-19 infections, minorities were subjected to “immobility,” while their European counterparts were accorded some freedom and protection (62). These statistics reveal that America has continued to perpetuate racial segregation in almost every dimension of society. This calls for progressive and practical social, financial, and political positions that will influence programs to improve the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
In conclusion, inequality, health, and immigration have been at the center of America’s policies for decades. In a developed economy that has been applauded for its immigration heritage, systemic racism has rendered many Americans unhealthy, unsafe, and without the freedom to migrate. Although the American government has a vested interest in border controls, it has extended unequal treatments to immigrants barring many from accessing the health benefits and wellbeing available in the country.
Brown, Tyson H. “Racial Stratification, Immigration, and Health Inequality: A Life Course-Intersectional Approach.” Social Forces, vol. 96, no. 4, 2018, pp. 1507-1540. Web.
Jett, Brandon T. “‘ Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies’: Race, (I’m) Mobility, and the Inequalities of Capitalism in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries.” Journal of Urban History, 2020, pp. 50-75. Web.
Krouse, Helene J. “COVID-19 and the widening gap in health inequity.” Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 163, no.1, 2020, pp. 65-66. Web.
Martin, Philip, and Elizabeth Midgley. Immigration to the United States. Yale University Press, 2009.
Singh, Gopal K. et al. “Immigrant Health Inequalities in the United States: Use Of Eight Major National Data Systems.” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2013, 2013, pp. 1-21. Hindawi Limited, Web.
Western, Bruce. Punishment and Inequality in America. Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.
Conflict Theory Applied To The American Civil War
The history of humankind is intertwined with continuous conflicts that emerge based on differences in interests and competition over resources. Wars, social unrest, and other forms of conflicts are inevitable elements of historical development; they are driven by power distribution and the fight for dominance. In this regard, the application of conflict theory to the analysis of war is an insightful practice that allows for identifying the causes of the war, its characteristic features, and its impact on society. In this paper, the case of the American Civil War will be explored and analyzed using conflict theory. The paper will aim to determine that this conflict developed based on the economic, social, and political competition over land, resources, and prevalent social order between the South and North. The research question of the planned research will be as follows: How does the conflict theory inform the causes of the American Civil War?
As with any other war in the history of humanity, the American Civil War started due to a disagreement between the parties in the society. The conflict between the Union, consisting of the Northern states, and the Confederacy, including the Southern states, lasted between 1861 and 1865(Parish, 2020). The forces of the two sides fought because of their opposing views on the role of slavery, which was necessary for the agricultural South and unacceptable for the industrialized North. According to Parish (2020), the theory of conflict implies economic interpretations of the causes of the American Civil War, which are seen in the contradiction of economic interests.
Indeed, since slavery was at the center of the conflict, the economic gains that were pursued by the South were the free labor force granted by slavery for cotton production. The conflict theory holds that the bargainer must “persuade the other that he/she will carry through with a threat or promise or will not move from the announced stand” (Pruitt, 2018, p. 284). In the case of the American Civil War, the threat of using military means in the case of resistance to the change in slavery was a turning point.
Apart from the economic gains, the political and social issues were influential in the unfolding of the conflict. In particular, the conflict of interests related to slavery was indicative of the social causes of the conflict. Indeed, while slavery had economic benefits for the South, it was a matter of social justice for the North (Parish, 2020). From a political perspective, the causes of the Civil War involved the legal statuses of particular states and the overall political order. In such a manner, a wide range of underlying forces played a significant role in the unfolding of the conflict, which ultimately affected the historical development of the country.
Thus, the application of the conflict theory to the American Civil War demonstrated that the war was caused by the clash of economic, political, and social interests of the two parts of the society. The analysis indicates that the conflict does not emerge in isolation but rather unfolds at multiple levels. In the case of the Civil War, the differences in the interests within the political and social realms contributed to the economic conflict. Thus, the events during the war involved the restructuring of the social order, political reality, and economic circumstances. The proposed research will be focused on researching the interplay between the causing factors of the American Civil War from the perspective of conflict theory.
Parish, P. J. (2020). The American Civil War. Routledge.
Pruitt, D. G. (2018). Tom Schelling’s contributions to conflict theory and research. Negotiation Journal, 34(3), 283–290.
Liberation Theology In Mid-20th Century Latin America
Liberation theology is a movement in Catholic beliefs and socioeconomic mobility which emerged in mid-20th century Latin America. It combined the values of Christianity and the Gospel with the economic principles of Marxism in the attempt to make corrections to social, economic, and governance structures, including in the Catholic Church as well, by bringing greater equality and justice for the poor and struggling populations. Liberation theology serves as a critical part of Latin American cultural and socioeconomic trajectory through the latter 20th century. This paper seeks to examine the foundational principles, historic context, and evolution of beliefs in liberation theology. It then presents a discussion on the origin of the movement, whether it was political influencing religion or vice-versa with religious beliefs affecting socio-politics. In the end, modern perspectives on the topic were outlined, highlighting the reemergence of liberation theology in a new form.
The Liberation Theology movement, which is largely attributed to the burst of Roman Catholicism and other Christian followings in mid-20th century Latin America, is one of the most interesting and unique events of modern church history and theological developments. Although existing in some form throughout history, the Latin American context created perfect circumstances for the merging of Christian principles and sociopolitical ‘Marxist’ concepts. The result aimed at reducing poverty and correcting social injustices for the lower classes of struggling Latin American populations via a symbolic and sometimes literal “theology of liberation.” This paper will explore the evolution of the liberation theology beliefs in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1990s. A discussion will then be presented discussing the close interconnection between the religious and political aspects of liberation theology, seeking to identify whether it was politics that influenced the development of the Christian liberation beliefs or the religious elements that sparked the sociopolitical movement.
What is Liberation Theology?
Theology in itself is a complex element, everchanging and difficult to define. Christians are encouraged to view theology through a comprehensive and integrated lens. One of the leaders of liberation theology Gustavo Gutiérrez defined theology as a “critical reflection on Christian praxis in light of the word,” in other words calling for greater integration of Christian values and reflection and subsequent practices and actions (Tennet, 2007). That is perhaps one of the defining characteristics of liberation theology as it seeks to combine these concepts of Christian thinking and practice, as Gutiérrez heavily criticized the status quo and inadequacies of Western theological reflection.
At its core, liberation theology is a religious sociopolitical movement within Christianity, but particularly the Roman Catholic Church which seeks to redefine the role of the church in everyday society as an institution that helps and supports the weak and poor rather than the elitist and rich. It is a movement that seeks to reclaim religion as the foundation in the pursuit of social justice and return the Church, as well as society, to the regular working-class people. It sought to correct social injustice and ‘liberate’ the poor as part of evangelization (Kim & Kim, 2016). For some, this is viewed as radical while others, support it, viewing liberation theology as a rightful interpretation of the Gospel, with Jesus Christ living the experience and always supporting the poor. With liberation theology, the Church was moving towards a socially-oriented mission as many in the hierarchy committed to helping the poor. However, the most controversial element of liberation theology stems from the integration of Marxist economics into the interpretation of the Gospel. Since Jesus is a liberator of the poor, radical liberation theology supporters argued for the reorganization of socioeconomic and governance structures, so that the poor are provided overwhelming resources (Dault, 2014).
Liberation theology argues that the Christian gospel is best understood in the context of participating in the struggles of the poor and their fight for justice. Faith is based not just on the intellectual understanding of truths about God, but rather the action and commitment of Christians to other human beings and the work of God. Theology is a reflection of the commitment of Christians to put effort into the praxis of the demands of faith.
Historical Context and Emergence of Liberation Theology
In the post-1950s era, Latin America was in a desperate state. There was an increasing socioeconomic divide, oppressive governments, and an overwhelming number of poor. The Catholic Church, which was the predominant denomination in the region, had traditionally been very closed off and appealing to the elitist socioeconomic population. While the Church still preached to the masses, it was doing little to help or alleviate their suffering, resulting in growing frustrations among clergy who saw the contradiction between Jesus’ message and the Church’s doing. Furthermore, the Church had contributed for centuries towards the exploitation of these people by Imperialist powers. By the 1960s there was a strong sense of Christian radicalism engulfing Latin America, as church activists and clergy declared their intent to work with the poor and find solutions to the socioeconomic crises engulfing the nations. Latin American clergy proposed many interventions at the Second Vatican Council held 1962-1965, such as allowing clergy to get involved in organizing movements for locals to fight for their rights. Surprisingly, the proposals were approved, with the Council recognizing disparities in Third World countries, and calling upon the Church to be more worldly (Kim & Kim, 2016).
Encouraged by this stance, theologians in Latin America began to associate with activist groups supporting the poor and the oppressed. It is at this time that the term ‘liberation theology’ was first used by Peruvian priest Gustave Gutierrez, who led a large movement at the Medellin Conference of Latin American Bishops in 1968. In 1971, he published the Theology of Liberation, which many consider the guide and manifesto for the followers of the movement. Liberation of theology was heavily rooted in the Christian faith and scriptures, but its leaders believed that traditional theology was too abstract and failed to uphold the spirit of the Gospel, becoming irrelevant to the oppressed masses (Kim & Kim, 2016).
Gutierrez argued that his liberation theology should have radical meaning and a revolutionary call to action on behalf of the poor, immersing Christians in the struggle to transform society. Marxist economic philosophy also plays a role in liberation theology, building on his beliefs that many issues of the modern world arise due to the economic exploitation of the poor. However, liberation theologians maintain faith in Jesus Christ, while Marxist recommendations are used as tools to organize people and liberate them from their status quo. For Gutierrez, no matter the analytical value that Marxism served, the liberation ideology and praxis were inspired and nourished by the Gospel and a vision of utopia and liberation for the poor, such as those seen in the Exodus or Jesus’ teachings (Morales-Franceschini, 2018). In practicality liberation, theologists envisioned a new Church, one that stood up against injustice and evangelized to raise consciousness and awareness of ongoing struggles within the church.
Development of Liberation Theology
By the end of the 1970s, liberation theology exploded in popularity and acceptance, driving the actions and image of the new Catholic Church in Latin America. The movement became grassroots and was adopted across base communities across the continent. These grassroots movements brought together struggling families and sought to solve their problems through the parish as well as focusing on large movements for change in policy or governance structures. Base communities created a Church that was of and with the poor.
Liberation theology was quickly adopted across Latin America, influenced by support from around the world and some evident implications of the theology have real-world impact. Liberation theology was adopted and supported by various clerical organizations, movements, and even religions or denominations. One of the most controversial but well-publicized movements was “Christians for Socialism” – where both clergy and faithful committed themselves to the implementation of socialism, viewing it as necessary for a just society. At the same time, the 1970s saw major political changes in Latin America with the establishment of authoritarian governments and repressions. There began open political distrust of liberation movements and their persecution by the government.
By the 1980s, there was resentment among conservatives in the Catholic Church about Marxism radicalism as it tended to undermine the authority of the church. Liberation theology leaders were criticized, and in 1984, the Church published a directive as part of the Doctrine of Faith that rejected liberation theology fully in principle. Pope John Paul II in power at the time also heavily criticized the liberation perspective for the use of Marxism and other theories which question Church authority and may end up hurting the poor. The Pope’s main objective was to stop the highly politicized form of theology. He believed that the movement was turning the Church into a secular political institution that saw salvation as the achievement of social justice, which took out the concept of faith in Jesus to transform lives. The image of Jesus as a radical revolutionary was inconsistent with the Church’s teachings (Morales-Franceschini, 2018). John Paul II wanted the Church to be a champion for the poor, but not through radical politics or even violence. If social action is necessary, it should be in the image of the Gospel, peaceful and open to everyone. Otherwise, the purpose of the Church was to bring and teach about the Kingdom of God, not transform nations and governments.
Gutierrez and others attempted to fight back by arguing that traditional charity is not enough, and the Church has a role in determining what and how certain systems kept millions of people oppressed and in poverty and restructuring them as needed. Towards the end of the century, liberation theology was losing track and popularity as it no longer had the trust and support of the Vatican. Government agencies including the CIA were investigating the movement for associations with extremist leftists and it generally became heavily politicized. Mostly, the very committed and radicals were left attempting to make changes (Morales-Franceschini, 2018). The movement never saw such engagement in Latin America again.
Outcomes of Liberation Theology
The liberation theology movement left a lasting legacy and impact both in Latin America and across the world. First, it inspired the discourse about justice and equality in society based on religious themes, shifting the position of the Church of being open to everyone and actively contributing to the wellbeing of the poor (even if not being political activists anymore). The movement inspired similar movements in other religions or regions, where similarly the grassroots activism had helped to bring attention to the issues of the poor. Base communities around the world are a lasting legacy of liberation theology and demonstrated the amazing transformative power of the theology. Liberation theology is not completely gone but adapting and making a difference as will be discussed later.
Despite being less prevalent, liberation theology continues to play a key role in the region. According to Celis (2016) examination of Columbia, there is pastoral and political commitment to aiding marginalized communities and victims of oppression. New theologies are developing, taking inspiration from liberation perspectives, such as ones focusing on human rights and the role of the Church in that complex dynamic. Seeing the lasting and positive impact of liberation theology for the poor, other types of theologies emerged focused on other oppressed groups. This includes Black theology aimed at addressing the issue of racism in the U.S., seeking liberation from discriminatory structures of racism. There is also feminist theology seeking to protect the rights of women and advocating for their place in society, especially ultra-conservative or religious ones.
Liberation theology failed to achieve its goals largely for the same reasons that led to its creation. Its theological and ideological stance on praxis for a social revolution was too radical and too strong. While millions across Latin America welcomed the changes in the church, the population has always remained too religious and pious to openly defy Vatican authority and pursue a social revolution. The liberationists were so radical in their attempts to ‘shake’ the population that they often missed their needs (Levine, 1988). With the decline of Communism after the Cold War, the ideology promoted by the original liberation theology was no longer relevant for most and the movement retreated.
Given the information presented regarding the background and development of liberation theology, the author of this paper presents a question for discourse regarding the influences which led to the emergence and popularization of this theology. One can argue that it is highly political and ideological, with the socialist influences of Marx being openly present, with religious aspects being brought forward as a manner of unifying the collective populations. Meanwhile, it can also be a theologically developed perspective, based on the numerous instances of kindness and social justice in the Bible, with the political elements added on to make real-world relevance and applications.
Gutiérrez and other theologians at the forefront of the theological liberation movement have largely not denied the political influences on the concept. Historians view theology as a byproduct of the political radicalization in that era. In theology, there is always a debate and balance between the transcendence and immanence of God, at some points He is distant and otherworldly, while in others, He is an interventionist in human affairs. Liberation theology place God as a daily presence, not just among humans, but among the poor and oppressed, no longer having universal regard but partial to racial minorities, poor, and women. It was a narrative-driven by liberation theologians, who saw the existing structures and hierarchies, and having worked directly or with people from revolutionary situations, recognized that existing theology was too esoteric and unrealistic. Therefore, they created an ideology that sought to capture a popular understanding of God and gave Him a voice to make it a legitimate theology (Miller, 2018).
At the same time, much of liberation theology was originating from base ecclesial communities and para-church groups. Similar to that how the Gospel was shared and spread back in the time of Jesus and the Apostles, the people would gather to read and hear Biblical stories. People would offer their insight and relate to these passages, particularly in situations of vulnerability or oppression. This grassroots contact also led liberation theologists to identify and highlight the difference in how the elitist and clergy perceived the Bible and how it was viewed by the poor. However, in all cases, the Bible text was politicized to some extent and interpretation depended strongly on social class (Miller, 2018).
While liberation theology ultimately defines the Christian faith in the political context of Marxism and inequality, its origins may still be just as religious-based. As bluntly declared by a Nicaraguan priest supporting the theology before Pope John Paul II, “Christ led me to Marx!” (Novak, 1984). As noted by academics studying the topic in the 1980s, the starting point for liberation theologists was not Marxism, but a realization and awareness of the structural causes of poverty. In turn, they use their faith, to use insights from Marx’s critiques and theories to propose solutions. Critics of liberation theology would immediately ‘hear’ Marxism and dismiss the theologists, while in fact, they are trying to say something different, to advocate for change in the status quo through faith (Novak, 1984).
Nevertheless, it can be argued that liberation theology strongly resembles a political vision. Liberation theology describes the Christian faith in terms of economics and social relations seen in newspapers, while academics have shown similarities between Roberto Unger’s political theory studies and Gutierrez’s manifesto of sorts. Even if these have different origins and disagree on some points, their praxis (the combination of theory and practice in theology) is the same, to challenge social and political minds that are troubled by social injustices (Araujo, 1994). The political roots and involvement of liberation theology are difficult to deny which led to the theology being largely ostracized from the Vatican.
With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and subsequently the Soviet Union, liberation theology experienced a crisis of identity, since the world largely rejected Marxist beliefs which were best embodied in the U.S.S.R. Liberation theology lost popularity and began to shift towards its modern perspective, which some saw as a decline, while others, a positive evolution. Most current theologians hold a nuanced interpretation of liberation theology. This theology was no longer associated with Marxism by the majority of academics or theologists. Finally, a post-modernist approach with new topics arising regarding the theology of liberation including genre, indigenous, black, eco-theology and others (Castrillón, 2018).
Many liberation theologists, including Gutierrez himself, have directed their focus toward sustainable development policies which can also greatly promote equity and justice in developing countries. They continue to support socialist approaches to policies within the context of modern democracies and also support market measures. However, the liberation theology movement has become a grassroots movement promoting justice through sustainable development models which seek to confront the dilemma of balancing limited resources among growing populations. The implementation of sustainable methods can be seen through unique examples of political activism of Christian base communities (Martin, 2003). Base communities are an element associated with the early days of the Gospel. Base communities are small groups of people in some form of relationship with one another, connected to a community. In the days of the Pentecostals, as the Gospel was shared, they could discuss it together for the purpose of effective action. Base communities were sometimes even called ‘gospel creators’ rather than ‘consumers’ as they provide small-scale welfare and networks of support (Tennent, 2007). Therefore, grassroots activism can be seen through the emergence of base communities in Latin America and other parts of the world as a venue for the poor to organize, reflect on their spirituality, and push for sustainable policies.
As mentioned earlier, liberation theology has spread throughout the world in various forms, aimed at providing a voice for various marginalized communities. With the election of Pope Francis in 2013, liberation theology began to be more revealed and less censured by the Catholic Church. Pope Francis never publicly supported the theology of liberation, even clashing with fellow Jesuits on the issue of confronting and helping to overthrow a violent dictatorship in the latter half of the 20th century, when still rising through the ranks of the Church in Argentina. However, with the transformations seen in the Church with the leadership of the humble and ever-advocating for the poor Pope Francis, the ideology is coming back to light, perhaps in a more controlled rather than radical manner, allowing it to be officially embraced by the Catholic Church. In the words of Pope Francis, a “poor church for the poor” (Dault, 2014).
Liberation theology is undeniably a critical element of Latin American history and the development of Christianity in the region. Offering a radical but populist perspective, liberation theology helped to unite the poor and struggling under socioeconomic conditions and oppressive government regimes. It also helped to redefine the role of the Church in the region, making it relatable to the people and embedded into society and culture, a dramatic shift from the elitist and seemingly unattainable position that it had undertaken for centuries. It is also evident that liberation theology underwent several iterations, gradually losing the radical political approach and focusing on elements of benefit to society such as social justice, equality, and sustainability. In the discourse regarding the politicization of the Church or was it the religious aspects that sparked the sociopolitical movement, it is difficult to conclude. However, it seems that in its original radical form, liberation theology emerged and was heavily influenced by the political theory of Marxism, a strong reason for its long-term denial by the Catholic church. It poses the question of the overall connections between varying theologies and external influences, and whether or not that is an appropriate means of developing theological perspectives. Overall, it seems that liberation theology is gaining more acceptance within the structures of Christianity as there are once again significant concerns about the socioeconomic divides that have paralyzed the modern world.
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