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Rendering unto Caesar: The Catholic Church and the State in Latin America
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Gill argues that most of the time, dominant religions-those who claim the adherence of the vast majority of the population-cooperate with the state. The Church can provide legitimacy to the ruling regime, giving it much needed credibility in the eyes of the public. In return, the state can supply crucial resources to the Church. When one religion holds a monopoly or near-monopoly position in the loyalties of the people, it will not have an incentive to violate this mutually beneficial relationship, regardless of how the state behaves. When there is competition among religions for the hearts and souls of the populace, however, the calculations change. Recognizing that people can turn to alternative religions, leaders of the dominant religion will often oppose a regime viewed with disdain among parts of the population. Gill develops and applies these ideas to the relationship between the Catholic Church and the state in twelve Latin American countries during the 19th and especially the 20th centuries.
This brilliantly conceived book succeeds in every respect. It takes on a controversial subject, presents its argument in a clear and careful manner, and develops convincing evidence. Gill effectively demystifies both government and, especially, religion.Read more ›