Segments in this Video

Evangelical Message Versus Liberation Theology (02:46)


Born-again Christians promise relief in the hereafter to Central America's poor as they forage in dumps. Liberation theologians tell the poor to create a better life in this world through political struggle. Both have U.S. supporters.

Credits: The Kingdom Divided (00:42)

Credits: The Kingdom Divided

Importance of Religious Divisions (01:11)

Is the church's main work to save souls or society? Many denominations are divided. Religious forces are crucial to politics everywhere, including Central America.

Religion in Central America (02:13)

Central America's Catholic-dominated status quo is shaken as Nicaraguan Sandinista Christians seek to synthesize Christianity and Marxism; anti-communist fundamentalist Protestantism is a counter-force.

American Christians' Agenda in Honduras (02:14)

Conservative U.S. churches support Honduras's growing evangelical community, promoting it as an anti-communist bulwark. We meet the leader of one such effort.

American Evangelicals' Message (03:34)

The Christian group provides food and clothing to Nicaraguan refugees in Honduras and works to spread the Gospel. We listen to a sermon.

Missionaries' Goals (02:04)

Humanitarian aid is a way to make possible the preaching of the Gospel, a missionary explains, and changing people's hearts will change the world.

American Preacher Televised in Honduras (01:49)

A Honduran pastor hears the Gospel preached by American tv evangelist Jimmy Swaggart; we watch Swaggart's enthusiastic message.

Pentecostalism and a Methodist Critic (01:48)

Pentecostalism has spread rapidly in Central America, with its belief in faith healing and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. A Methodist missionary in Honduras says Pentecostalism is a "diversion" preached by the uneducated.

Evangelical View of Life on Earth (02:29)

Pastor Estrada and his wife converted from Catholicism to Evangelicalism after her healing. Asked whether God wants Christians to change the world, he says change starts with our hearts and we should look forward to God's Kingdom.

Fundamentalist Geopolitics (02:27)

A Methodist who works in Honduras links fundamentalists' targeting of Central America with Reagan's anti-communist efforts in the region. We watch televised pleas by evangelists with geopolitical overtones.

Ministry to Contras (02:24)

A ministry goes into the camps of the rebel Contras, preaching and praying. Moyers asks Rev. Phil Derstine about connections with Oliver North.

Immorality of Contras and Oliver North (02:45)

Moyers asks the preacher about allegations of Contra atrocities. The preacher says Communists believe the ends justify the means; Moyers suggests Oliver North acts on a similar principle.

Pat Robertson's Support for Contras (01:22)

Pat Robertson has raised millions in humanitarian aid for the Contras but denies giving to military organizations. His address to Contra soldiers is shown.

Humanitarian Aid as Political Weapon (01:59)

Evangelical Bill Murray provides humanitarian aid to the Contras; he talks about the Sandinista threat. Moyers suggests he should give to Sandinistas as well; Murray defends use of humanitarian aid for political purposes.

Politics and Religion (01:44)

Moyers asks Murray about connections to Reagan. Moyers accuses Christians of politicizing religion through aid to Contras; Murray defends Christian political involvement.

People's Church (01:24)

Christian Sandinistas combine Christianity and Marxism through liberation theology. At a pro-Sandinista People's Church, worshippers sing politically charged hymns.

Sermon at People's Church (02:26)

At the People's Church, the preacher talks about finding God in the political struggle and mourns those who have fallen to Contra rebels. Congregation takes part in Mass.

Origins and Support for Liberation Theology (01:31)

Liberation Theology arose from base communities, which organize projects. Many North American churches actively support this vision.

Mainline Support for Sandinistas (02:25)

Mainline churches send missionaries to help with Sandinista projects. Asked if he is a Marxist dupe, a leader of one such effort argues the church is supporting a fight against injustice.

Connecting with Nicaraguan Churches (01:51)

CEPAD, an organization engaged in relief and development work, works in Nicaragua. A sister-church program connects churches in the two countries.

Liberation Theology Defended (02:15)

A supporter of Liberation Theology says people recognized existing class divisions as unjust in light of God's love for all. The revolution results from the Bible, not Marxism.

Injured by Landmine (02:55)

A father and daughter living near a Nicaragua each lost legs to an apparent Contra landmine. A missionary photographer's daughter also lost her legs.

American Christians on Revolutionary Violence (02:51)

Jesus suffers with the Nicaraguans as the U.S. government oppresses them, American supporters argue. Moyers asks them about Marxism's support of violence.

Personal Journey to Nicaragua (01:37)

Nicaragua's revolutionary Christianity attracted Methodist missionary George Baldwin so much that he stayed, declaring God had called on him to be poor.

Rejecting Privilege (01:40)

Jesus struggled for justice for the poor, Baldwin says. Sharing the life of the poor allows Baldwin to reject the system that privileged him over them.

Working Toward God's Reign (01:23)

Baldwin attends services at the People's Church, listening to the people read the Bible and relate it to their revolution. Their role is to bring God's reign, he says.

God Taking Sides (02:22)

A Christian aid groups helps the people of a village provide clean water. God takes sides in the struggle between rich and poor, Baldwin says.

Cannot Serve God and Money (02:03)

The church Baldwin grew up in taught that Christians could pursue material success and participate in exploitative systems. He now rejects this idea in favor of radical life choices.

Contra Attacks on Cooperatives (02:07)

A project helps people in resettlement villages and organizes cooperatives; one cooperative runs a bakery. Contras have attacked these civilian cooperatives.

Religion, Literacy and Power (01:15)

Baldwin connects Latin American masses' historic powerlessness and illiteracy with the Latin liturgy, and their awakening with Vatican II and the spread of Bible reading.

Sandinista Human Rights Violations (03:09)

Asked about Sandinista human rights violations, Baldwin defends their actions as legitimate emergency measures. Moyers presses about the danger of deifying the state.

Evangelical Focus on Gospel (02:46)

Conservative U.S. Methodists see Christian revolution seeking liberation in this world as heresy and believe missionaries should spread the Gospel instead.

Dispute Over Missionary Role (02:21)

Some churches withhold funds from missionary agencies who do not focus on spreading the Good News. Christ can transform regardless of politics and economics and brought prosperity to America when we turned to him, one pastor says.

Accusations of Unchristian Agenda (02:16)

A Methodist organization has called for the recall of missionaries whose agenda is said to be support for Nicaragua's Marxist government. Methodism's internal conflicts are those of American Christianity as a whole, a conservative says.

Ortega at Liberal New York Church (01:22)

Nicaraguan President Ortega spoke at a liberal Brooklyn church whose congregation sang the Sandinista hymn.

Jesus' Mission (02:54)

A guest cites Jesus proclaiming relief to the poor and oppressed. Moyers counters that Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. The guest argues we must sacrifice our wealth, which derives from Third World poverty.

Theology and the Poor (02:10)

Our theology is colored by our wealth or poverty, a missionary argues; Christ calls us to respond to unjust systems causing poverty.

Jesus Saving the World (01:21)

Moyers suggests conservatives would find his guest naive about communism. The guest says Jesus came to save this world, and Christians should understand it.

Moyers' Closing Thoughts (00:51)

Christians should understand the world. Jesus' example is saving the world by living in it. Citing Pascal, he argues Christians would be less divided if they understood each others' views.

Sponsors & Credits: The Kingdom Divided (02:40)

Sponsors & Credits: The Kingdom Divided

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The Kingdom Divided

Part of the Series : God and Politics
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This program tells the story of two different visions of Christianity and how each is finding a pulpit and battleground in Central America. In Nicaragua, the Sandanistas’ view of Christianity says that the poor must not wait for justice, that the Kingdom of God can be achieved in this world. In Honduras, the poor are attracted to evangelical churches that promise a reward in heaven for the sufferings of this world, a view which poses no challenge to the status quo. "The religious world has turned upside down in Central America," says host Bill Moyers. "After four centuries, the Catholic Church, with its liberation theology, is identifying itself openly with the aspirations of the poor. Its place as defender of authority and stability in society is being taken by evangelicals. And back here in the U.S., Christians are choosing sides in this new Reformation." (90 minutes)

Length: 87 minutes

Item#: BVL5022

ISBN: 978-1-4213-5236-7

Copyright date: ©1994

Closed Captioned

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