This paper tries to distinguish between religious movements which transform religious life and others which do so to a small or insignificant extent, using the contrast between conformism and dissidence – and emphatically avoiding quasi-political metaphors such as ‘progressive’ and conservative’. In outlining the contrast, drawing principally on Brazilian and North American examples, the paper relies on the dialectic between popular and erudite religion, and compares the Charismatic Renewal movement within Catholicism with the Pentecostal movement in search of significant differences, or rather in search of how to understand the differences and the similarities.

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