Spirituality: A Development Taboo

February 1, 2000

In this article from Development in Practice, Kurt Alan Ver Beek explores an aspect of religion and development not often researched: the significance of spirituality and unorganized belief systems in the daily decisions of many people in developing countries, especially Latin America and Africa. Using a case study of the Lenca people in Honduras, Ver Beek describes the influence of spirituality on agriculture, health, and social action. He then provides statistics that show that development theory and practice tend to avoid discussion of spirituality, attempting to explain this taboo from both religious and secular perspectives. The article concludes with Ver Beek's recommendations for incorporation of indigenous spirituality and developing-world belief systems into both the theory and practice of development.

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