Liberation Theology in Latin America

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12153

The common wisdom at parties is "Never discuss religion and politics." These days, it is anathema to mix religion with politics. Examine the effect "religious" individuals can have on world politics!


World, World Religions

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Does religion play a role in shaping the events of history? Is it a legitimate role?

Religion has played an enormous role in history.

It has been one of the main ways large groups of people organized themselves, built and maintained complex societies, and communicated ideas, values, and traditions. It is only in recent centuries that religion has become a personal matter to some. Religion helped shape events in the twentieth century as it had in prior times, and the rise of Liberation Theology is one example.

Liberation Theology developed during a very chaotic and bloody period in Central and South American history. Its main idea is that the "Church" is responsible for protecting the weak and the poor before all else. Controversial to this day, this way of thinking about religion motivated many priests, nuns, and lay people to sacrifice their lives for standing against war and conflict.

Read an article about Liberation Theology. As you read, write down information and ideas to answer the following questions:

  • What is one sentence that seems to sum up the ideas behind the movement?
  • Why is Liberation Theology considered controversial?
  • Where did Liberation Theology take shape?
  • Who are some of the important figures?

Learn some of the background on this movement in the Catholic Church by reading the article, Liberation theology, courtesy of the BBC. Share the information you find with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss them together:

  • How does religion change history?
  • How does religion stay the same over time? How does it change?
  • How do historical events influence the way people think about religion?

Religions are made up of many parts. One important part is interpretation, or how people understand and apply the words of their sacred texts and the ideas to their religion and lives.

In the Got It? section, examine how the ideas of Liberation Theology were understood and applied in the lives of real people.

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