As he began research for this project, sociologist Robert Brenneman wanted to know why evangelical religion provides “a widely recognized refuge from the gang — a way out for weary gang members” (p. 236). Does evangelical Christianity simply provide a means of getting out of violent gangs alive? Or do these conversions constitute legitimate emotional investments conscientiously made by young people acting on their own behalf?

Previous scholarship on gangs in northern Central America depicted these youth as “helpless victims” of social ills or “sociopaths . . . driven by a particular set of innate psychological circumstances” (pp. 72 – 74). However, depicting them as helpless victims fails to help explain why belonging to a gang might actually appeal to a young person and why later in life that same person might convert to evangelical Christianity.

To ascertain the appeal of gangs in...

You do not currently have access to this content.