Futuribles Journal n° 260

Société, modes de vie

Protestantisme évangélique et pentecôtiste

Par

Recent decades, according to Jean-Paul Willaime, have been marked by a growth of evangelical brands of Christianity that lay great stress on the personal religious commitment of each individual. These new religious practices in the Protestant tradition have, among other developments, taken the form of an increase in Evangelical Protestantism and Pentecostalism.
This substantial growth, which is probably the main transnational religious movement of the 20th century, has affected Europe as well as Latin America, Africa and Asia. Jean-Paul Willaime offers some statistics that speak for themselves. These militant branches of Christianity now account for more than 20% of churchgoers in North America (i.e. 20 million Americans) 10% of the population of South America, 25% of South Koreans, not to mention Africa. In Europe, one third of French Protestants are Evangelical Christians and Pentecostalists, as are almost two-thirds of Belgian Protestants, and in Italy there are more Pentecostalists than members of the traditional Protestant church.
The religious identity of these pious and orthodox Christians is that of the "convert" who places the whole of his or her life under God's authority, stressing individual responsibility and divine intervention as immediate and concrete. Through their insistence on moral behaviour, these evangelical churches offer protection and care to vulnerable groups by giving them a new kind of support based on religion, although they also increasingly attract middle class members. They have an economic role (redistribution) and encourage upward social mobility through access to positions of responsibility within the community.

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