Revolution, Revival, and Religious Conflict in Sandinista Nicaragua


This interdisciplinary study breaks new ground by exploring relations between Protestants (mainly Pentecostals) and the Sandinistas in revolutionary Nicaragua, which to date have received scant attention. It challenges the view that most Protestants supported the Sandinistas (in fact, the majority vigorously opposed them) and establishes why many believed Nicaragua was heading towards communism or totalitarianism. Meanwhile, the Sandinistas expressed irritation with Pentecostalism’s otherworldliness and support for Israel. Pentecostals were harassed, even brutally repressed in the northern highlands, leading many to join the Contras. That a minority of Protestants supported the Sandinistas caused further problems.
Pentecostals and Sandinistas were ideological rivals offering an alternative vision to the poor: revolution or revival. As Pentecostalism exploded, a collision between the two was inevitable.

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Calvin L. Smith, Ph.D. (2005) in Theology and Historical Studies, University of Birmingham, England, is Course Director and Lecturer in Theology at the Midlands Bible College, England. He is also Editor of the Evangelical Review of Society and Politics.
"Calvin Smith cuts new ground describing the inner relationships between the evangelical blocs and the perceptions held by Protestants of the Sandinistas. The wealth of the primary sources, and the insightful post-revolution analysis of the 1979-1990 Sandinista government, makes this book an important addition to the burgeoning body of literature that is exploring the involvement and influence of Latin American evangelical/Pentecostals in the political arena." - Doug Petersen, the Margaret S. Smith Professor of World Mission and Intercultural Studies and Director of the Judkins Institute for Leadership at Vanguard University of Southern California

"This book is a vital addition to the growing bibliography of revolutionary movements in Latin America. Smith's exhaustive research, combined with an intimate voice possible only through close personal contact between the author and many of the actors whose experiences color the pages, will secure this volume's place in scholars' libraries - Prof. Matthew A. Redinger, Montana State University in: Hispanic American Historical Review, August 2008.

" Smith’s dissertation is a solid academic work, with excellent documentation. All in all, he interviewed over 50 people in Nicaragua. The book is very nicely readable and shows an admirable mastery of both primary and secondary
sources. It is a fi ne contribution to the debate on religion and politics in Latin America, focusing on one of its most controversial cases: the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
" - H. Gooren, Centrum IIMO, The Netherlands in: Exchange 36, Issue 2 (2007).

" This fascinating book tells the story of the relationship between Pentecostals (for the most part) and Sandinistas in Nicaragua at a time when revolution was in the air. Calvin Smith, Principal of Midlands Bible College, England, is bilingual in English and Spanish and able to present a well researched account of these contested events. Not only does he read the literature in the original language but he is able to interview participants and, in a study that is clearly based upon extensive fieldwork and a discerning analysis of ideologically-driven bias, he presents a convincing narrative." - Revd. Dr. William K. Kay, Bangor University, UK in: Journal of European Theological Pentecostal Association, 2009.

" [...] clearly written, particularly in light of the author’s nuanced position among competing views. Instructors in Central American history or other courses that address the role of religion in politics will find this text useful for their undergraduate seminars or graduate courses. - Stephen Vantassel, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, US in: Mission Studies 26 (2009).

" Calvin Smith's articulate and solidly researched study of the intersection of religion and politics during the decade-long rule of the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) is most welcome. [...] Thus, his
work will be of interest to classes on, and scholars of, comparative politics and religion
for some time to come.
- Stephen F. Diamond, Santa Clara University, in: Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 29, No. 4.
All those interested in Latin American history, society and politics, Pentecostalism, modern church history, and church-state relations, as well as Christianity and politics and general theology.