cover image Prosperity Gospel Latinos and Their American Dream

Prosperity Gospel Latinos and Their American Dream

Tony Tian-Ren Lin. Univ. of North Carolina, $24.95 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-1-4696-5895-7

In this evocative debut, Lin, a New York Theological Seminary professor, contends that many Latinx immigrants, especially the undocumented, seek in Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism a complex set of blessings: wealth, but also integration, psychological strength, and survival. While the initial appeal of the Prosperity Gospel seems easy enough to understand, he writes, many have wondered why people—especially poor immigrant populations—remain committed to a faith that promises financial blessings but never seems to deliver. To find out, Lin attended services and conducted extensive interviews with the congregations of three prosperity churches in Virginia, California, and New York between 2005 and 2007, and uses close observations and interview responses to immerse readers in the lives of his subjects. Lin argues that “the dream lives even if it never materializes” because to dream is itself a miracle, and to pursue the dream is itself an achievement. Notably, though the faith demands financial offerings, no one Lin spoke with said they had incurred financial hardship as a result, and that it was left to them to decide what is an appropriate sacrifice, evidence of the personal autonomy facilitated in church congregants. 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. (Aug.)