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Religion and Latin America

Religion, and more specifically, the Catholic Church, has played a significant role in the Latin America experience since the late 1400’s.  As explained by Smith, the arrival of the Church signified the ending to cannibalism and human sacrifice.  The Church, in the earlier history of Latin America, was a integral arm of the government and helped to bring about social stability within the region.  It served the function of providing hospitals, asylums, and aid to the poor.  As noted by Smith, by the mid-twentieth century, the Church had severed its’ ties with the political governing forces and began to assume a more active role in participating in efforts aimed at assisting with the liberation of the poor.  However, as Smith explained, the Catholic Church, similar to the military within the region, has consistently moved back and forth between serving the poor while serving the purposes of the ruling political bodies.  While it has played a role in bringing about social stability, the Catholic Church has essentially involved itself in the social control of a region for the purposes of furthering the aims of the political elite.

Religion and Latin America

Overall, the economic situation associated with the Latin American experience has historically been one in which there has been the presence of a extreme dualism between the wealthy and the poor. An author explained, the region has been characterized by extensive poverty and inequality as a consequence of an economic system that has historically benefited the wealthier of the populace.  In times of economic crisis during more recent years, as noted by an author , governments within Latin America have responded to the needs of the poor on the basis of policies which reflected the mentality of too little, too late.  Often, when efforts have been initiated to respond to social problems brought about by fluctuating economics, the beneficiaries have not been those most in need.  As Smith concluded, historically within Latin America, there have been no safety nets in place to assist the impoverished which has continued to lead to social unrest as well as inhumane living conditions.

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