Testify: Mapping Conversion Narratives among Latino Pentecostal Men

“…can the Pentecostal church best serve Latina and Latino converts? What can the Catholic church do retain their Latino members and to serve them best? ”

Team Members/Contributors

Luis Leon The University of Denver Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

Despite the fact that it is impossible to know the exact number of Latinas and Latinos who convert from Catholicism to Pentecostalism in the United States each year, studies show that such a shift is occurring. As a result of this movement, sociologists and historians are asking about the motivations for and conditions under which Latinas and Latinos are converting. While there has been significant (though not sufficient) work done on Latina women who convert, particularly in Latin America, there is little work done on the conversion of Latino men. Still, there are a number of theories to explain conversion more broadly.

Some argue that Catholic Latina women convert in order to persuade their husbands to follow suit, which leads to the male’s sobriety and re-attachment to the household. Not incompatible with this theory, “rational choice consumerism” argues that both Latinas and Latinos convert because Pentecostalism offers “religious consumers” a much “improved product,” because of the emphasis Pentecostals place on miracles, particularly divine healing. I want to explore a parallel possibility, that of men converting because of the affective, emotional bonds they form with each other both during and after conversion. Such findings challenge baleful stereotypes of machismo.