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Religion a Foundation for Social Change: A Look into the Mexican American Experience in the U.S. Catholic Church through Las Hermanas and P.A.D.R.E.S. 1969-1989

Faculty Supervisor:
Penny Moon
Year of Project Completion:
Karrie Peterson


During the mid to latter half of the twentieth century Americans desired their own voice to protest inequality. They did this by rising up, collectivizing, and challenging what they considered to be the oppressive structures and powers that ruled the nation. Religion guided many of these people in particular phenomena such as the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the Feminist Movement. These phenomena illustrated the effects of religious belief on human behavior and thought. Throughout American history, religion has driven change and continues to challenge class, race, and gender boundaries. This is evident when looking at two Catholic groups, PADRES, a Chicano movement and organization of Catholic priests, and Las Hermanas, an organization created and led by Catholic Chicana/Latinas. Both organizations emerged during the 1960s-70s in response to eurocentric and sexist attitudes within the U.S. Catholic Church and used Catholicism to challenge race, class, and gender-based issues both within the Church and society.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.