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The Pioneering Protestants

From: Journal of Democracy
Volume 15, Number 2, April 2004
pp. 47-61 | 10.1353/jod.2004.0037


According to cross-national research, Protestantism has significantly contributed to global democratization. While Protestantism does not inevitably cause democratization, it often generates social dynamics that favor it. Some of the most important of these are: 1) the rise of religious pluralism; 2) the development of democratic theory and practice; 3) the development of civil society; 4) the spread of mass education; 5) printing and the origins of a public sphere; 6) the reduction of corruption; and 7) economic development. The article explores how Protestant groups, including Protestant missionaries, have promoted these dynamics in the past. It also argues that contemporary Protestant movements—particularly Pentecostalism—are continuing to do so in the present, though with less dramatic results.