Evangelicals and M-13 in El Salvador


El Salvador

It appears that evangelicalism in El Salvador is helping to solve the nation’s problem with gangs.  Here is a taste of Molly O’Toole’s piece at The New Republic:

According to experts, one of the gangs’ golden rules is that members can never leave with their lives. But in the past few years, there’s been a fascinating development: Gang bosses are increasingly granting those under their command desistance—a status change from “active” to “calmado,” meaning “calmed down”—if they convert to evangelicalism. At El Salvador’s San Francisco Gotera prison, about 1,000 ex-gang members have become evangelicals, nearly all of the overcrowded prison’s occupants

The phenomenon can also be seen outside, at smaller Pentecostal parishes such asEbenezer, whose ministry to gang members, The Final Trumpet, is known for speaking in tongues. Newfound-religious who stray from the righteous path, however—whether by drinking, doing drugs, beating their wives or girlfriends, or not attending church—can face deadly consequences from their former compatriots.

It’s an open, urgent question whether evangelical megachurches like Taber can use their influence to bring peace to El Salvador—or whether this is just one more union of political convenience that’s doomed to combust. 

Read the entire piece here.