Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Donley T. Studlar.


Two phenomena have been ongoing in Central America over the past 30 years. The first has been a change in the dominant religious structures in the region with the growth of Evangelical Protestantism and Pentecostalism, as well as ongoing changes within the Roman Catholic Church, such as the rise and fall of Progressive Catholicism. The other major phenomenon has been the establishment of democratic regimes across the isthmus. Putnam, Inglehart, Almond & Verba, among others, assert that for a democracy to flourish a vibrant civil society must be present. These scholars, along with Huntington, Weber, and Wald et al. believe that religious institutions are among the most efficient providers of civil society because of their size and type of associational activity. Furthermore, some religious institutions are more conducive to democracy than others.;This paper examines support for democracy to determine which religious institutions produce the strongest civil society. It also examines whether this religious trend supports or undermines democratization efforts. Using survey data collected in the spring and summer of 2003 in the Granada, Managua, Masaya, and Pueblos Blancos areas of Nicaragua, the paper tests the differences in the forms of civil society produced based on the associational activities undertaken by people from specific denominations.