In this immersive ethnography, Tony Tian-Ren Lin explores the reasons that Latin American immigrants across the United States are increasingly drawn to Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism, a strand of Protestantism gaining popularity around the world. Lin contends that Latinos embrace Prosperity Gospel, which teaches that believers may achieve both divine salvation and worldly success, because it helps them account for the contradictions of their lives as immigrants. Weaving together his informants’ firsthand accounts of their religious experiences and everyday lives, Lin offers poignant insight into how they see their faith transforming them both as individuals and as communities.
The theology fuses salvation with material goods so that as these immigrants pursue spiritual rewards they are also, perhaps paradoxically, striving for the American dream. But after all, Lin observes, prosperity is the gospel of the American dream. In this way, while becoming better Prosperity Gospel Pentecostals they are also adopting traditional white American norms. Yet this is not a story of smooth assimilation as most of these immigrants must deal with the immensity of the broader cultural and political resistance to their actually becoming Americans. Rather, Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism gives Latinos the logic and understanding of themselves as those who belong in this country yet remain perpetual outsiders.