Prosperity Gospel Latinos and Their American Dream
By Tony Tian-Ren Lin
By Tony Tian-Ren Lin
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.
“[An] evocative debut. . . . Lin’s well-reasoned work makes a strong case that the Prosperity Gospel provides a way for immigrants to survive, remain liberated, and pursue their American dream.”–Publishers Weekly
“In a wonderful book with great impact, Tony Tian-Ren Lin tells the stories of Latino immigrants who are learning to be ‘Americans’ through the theology and practices of an intrinsically American religion. This is the first serious book to account for the appeal of Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism to Latino immigrants in their journey.”—Pablo Vila, Border Identifications: Narratives of Religion, Gender, and Class on the U.S.-Mexico Border