Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 663–686 | Cite as

Between Church and State: a Christian Brotherhood’s Faithful Claims to Secularity in Mexico City

  • Graham W. HillEmail author


The Good News Businessmen’s Brotherhood (GNBB) is a Christian organization with evangelical commitments, charismatic practices, and whose members insist that their organization is secular. How are we to understand such a Christian claim to secularity? Members of GNBB draw on the multiple overlapping meanings of the secular in order to reach otherwise inaccessible places and audiences, but they also do so in an attempt to disavow conventional religious-secular distinctions. The GNBB claim to secularity is, therefore, an everyday life instantiation of two kinds of recent scholarly criticism: the secular injunction to separate religion from politics is a practical impossibility; and the apparent neutrality of secularism’s public/private and church/world distinctions masks an underlying affinity with a Protestant Christian worldview. Good News brothers’ everyday intertwining of faith and politics mirrors these scholarly critiques, with the exception that, where the latter finds grounds for criticism, the former find practical possibilities for building a project.


Secularism Religion Latin America Ethnography 



Earlier versions of this article were presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. I would like to thank Dylan Riley, Cihan Tugal, Margaret Chowning, Cristina Mora, Kim Voss, Cybelle Fox, Mara Loveman, Christian Joppke, Ruth Braunstien, John O’Brien, Anthony Stavrianakis, Bharat Venkat, Edwin Ackerman, Jonah Stuart Brundage, William Welsh, Michel Estefan, Ben Shestakofsky, and Kate Maich, as well as the editors and reviewers at Qualitative Sociology for their comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank UC MEXUS and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion for their financial support of my fieldwork.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL EPHE PSL)ParisFrance

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