Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
209:  Creating Religious Pollution: The LDS Church & Latin America:  Samy Galvez

209: Creating Religious Pollution: The LDS Church & Latin America: Samy Galvez

Low retention and a failure to contextualize means that the LDS Church continues to be a minority faith tradition in Latin America.   Missionaries who are called to serve from nations outside,  are more often than not culturally incompetent to proselyte in this region of the world and sometimes do more mischief than good.  With complex economic and political conditions and even more strained historical relationships with the United States, missionaries and General Authorities too often speak into a cultural void,  organising the LDS Church around ideas that work in Utah but have little relevance anywhere else.

Samy Galvez (Guatemala) joins me to discuss the Latin American context and to critique the issues of class, religion, politics, race, culture and ethnicity that are either overlooked or misunderstood in Mormon Latin American mission and ecclesial practice.


  1. ExpatinBrasil

    This episode started out very interesting as I’ve heard Samy tell his story in a previous (Mormon Stories(?)) podcast, but the history needs to be corrected a bit. When Samy begins talking about “mostly US companies” exploiting LatAm and the idea that the US wants a poor Latin America I think he gets things very wrong to a point to make the episode almost irredeemable.

    First, the current scandals rocking many parts of LatAm are NOT a result of US companies, but largely Brazilian companies (Specifically Oderbrecht) paying bribes to local politicians and working with LOCAL companies. It is a solely LatAm scandal.

    Secondly, I think it borders on slander to say the US wants to keep LatAm poor. Having worked for a number of companies doing business in LatAm, particularly in Brazil I can tell you that every company I’ve ever worked for has hoped and worked toward greater development in the region as OUR SUCCESS DEPENDS ON growing economies and PARTICULARLY growing incomes among the populations and I highly doubt the companies I’ve worked for are the exceptions.

    Finally, and related to my second point, if you look at the countries currently growing and currently failing in LatAm where is the US most involved? Colombia, Peru Chile have all seen expanding economies and rising standards of living over the last couple of decades. Is that because of the US? No, but all three have seen expanded economic ties with the US for sure. After 15+ years of Chavismo and a shrinking relationship with the US, Venezuela really has no one to blame but their own government.

  2. A Happy Hubby

    ExpatinBrasil – I too felt there may have been a bit of an overreach on villainizing the US for all Latin-America’s woes. But I don’t think that was the main issue being discussed. IT isn’t like Samy is working on his masters in U.S. / Latin-American studies. And I am in NO way claiming the U. S. is innocent and has never messed with other governments.

    But skipping over that, I enjoyed the interview very much and I agreed with most all of what Samy discussed. I appreciate Gina bringing on diverse perspectives from around the world on how the church looks/feels like to those outside the US. Some of what I hear, I feel also living outside of the Mormon corridor. Samy has an interesting view into this given his upbringing outside the US then coming to Utah.

    And I also want Samy to know that he has made a big impact in a friend of mine. He deeply respects you and what you have gone through.

    1. ExpatinBrasil

      AHH, I think your right. I think it annoyed me probably more than most listeners as someone who has spent most of his career working and, at times, living in Brazil. The idea that there’s a vast US govt. conspiracy to keep LatAm poor would be laughable if the theory hadn’t been used as a pretense for some pretty disastrous policies that are currently impoverishing and killing people in countries like Venezuela, for example.

      I love Gina’s interviews (though I generally disagree with her politics), but this small portion of the interview with Samy was too far over the top for me not to comment.

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