The Bible and the Ballot Box: Evangelicals and Democracy in the "Global South"

January 1, 2004

Author Timothy Shah attempts to answer the question of whether or not evangelicalism in the global South arrests or advances the process of democratization. On the one hand, evangelicals’ effect on the political system is to help break down, delegitimate, and otherwise weaken the hold of authoritarian political and social structures, and they also contribute to the deepening and inclusiveness of democracy by giving representation to voiceless and marginalized groups. Alternatively, evangelicalism’s pluralism, mutual competitiveness, and fractiousness undermine the unity and coordination necessary for effective advocacy of macro-level political change. While not particularly well disposed or institutionally positioned to inaugurate democratic regimes, evangelicalism can shape the conditions favorable to consolidating democratic politics in Third World Societies.

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