10 Fletcher F. 317 (1986)
Liberation Theology as a Revolutionary Ideology in Latin America

handle is hein.journals/forwa10 and id is 323 raw text is: LIBERATION THEOLOGY AS A
REVOLUTIONARY IDEOLOGY IN LATIN
AMERICA
ROBERTA STEINFELD JACOBSON
The doctrine of liberation theology in Latin American revolutionary
movements has sought to bridge the gap between Marxism and Catholicism,
by blending religious dogma and Marxist theory into a plan of action for
improving social conditions. Roberta SteinfeldJacobson outlines the attitudes
both of the Catholic Church and the Soviet Union toward this hybrid
doctrine. She then shows that liberation theology effectively promotes
revolution but so far has been unable to survive as an alternative to
traditional Catholic doctrine after the first phase of a revolutionary struggle
is over. She concludes with a discussion of policy recommendations for the
American government in coping with the influence of liberation theology on
revolutionary movements.
I. INTRODUCTION
The interaction of religion and politics has always been a potentially
explosive one, whether or not religious authority has tried to defend or
to challenge the status quo. In defusing this situation the policymaker
can treat political and religious upheaval as fundamentally separate, treat
the two as inextricable, or treat religion as one aspect of revolution. In
choosing the last of these options, however, the policymaker confronts a
combination so emotionally charged that formulating an effective policy
to cope with it is extremely difficult.
Radical religious movements affect the politics of the developing world
so profoundly that avoiding scholarly exploration of the topic is irre-
sponsible. In particular, Latin American governments must deal with
liberation theology if they are to address both insurgent and counterin-
surgent groups. The few serious attempts to look at the topic and its
revolutionary components have been partisan and therefore have promoted
neither understanding nor appropriate policy responses. Isolating the
Roberta Steinfeld Jacobson received her MAILD degree from the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy in 1986.

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