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We begin this episode with a land acknowledgement.

In this podcast episode, hosts Phil Arnold and Sandy Bigtree interview João Chaves, an assistant professor of the History of Religion in the Americas at Baylor University. Chaves discusses the history of Christianity in Brazil and its connections to the United States, particularly in relation to the Doctrine of Discovery. He explains how missionaries from the US, particularly Southern Baptists, played a role in the colonization and dispossession of native land in Brazil. Chaves also discusses the influence of Christian nationalism in Brazil and the rise of right-wing politics in the country. The hosts and Chaves also touch on the importance of telling the truth about the history of institutions, including universities, and the need to confront and address past injustices.

In Brazil, Christianity and nationalism have complex historical intersections. Our hosts and guests discuss the impact of colonization, Protestantism, and white Christian supremacy. They explore challenges and resistance to Christian nationalism in the Amazon region and the need for ongoing critical reflection and reconciliation. Arnold and Chaves examine the relationships between colonialism, religion, and violence in Brazil and the Americas, highlighting the dispossession of native land and the need to explore the legacy of colonialism on indigenous populations. How does Brazil’s religious tapestry reflect its colonial past? Join us with João Chaves to unravel the complex history of faith and power struggles in Latin America.

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Show Notes

When it comes to understanding the intricate fabric of Latin American history, few topics are as revealing and complex as the intertwining of colonialism, faith, and identity. The latest podcast episode featuring João Chaves, Assistant Professor at Baylor University, invites listeners to embark on a profound journey through the historical landscape of the Americas, exploring how the Doctrine of Discovery has left a lasting imprint on the region’s religious and social dynamics.

João Chaves’ expertise offers a unique perspective on the repercussions of Portuguese conquest and the subsequent influx of Confederate exiles post-American Civil War, particularly in shaping Brazilian Protestantism. The episode takes us through the unsettling history of how Eurocentric assumptions about property rights and racial hierarchies have persisted over centuries, continuing to influence Latin American society to this day.

The discussion delves deeper into the specific experiences of Brazilian Baptists migrating to the United States, revealing how their identities and ideologies are reshaped in the shadow of the Southern Baptist Convention. Chaves brings to light the role of local converts and their contributions to the spread of Protestantism, even as they sometimes inadvertently perpetuate white supremacist ideologies.

The podcast does not shy away from the more contentious aspects of religion’s role in society, tackling the complex interplay of racism, Christianity, and capitalism. By examining figures like Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and his ‘pan-Christian’ leadership, the episode provides a critical analysis of the forces that have molded the modern world.

As the conversation turns to Baylor University’s own introspection into its historical narratives, listeners are introduced to the Commission for Historical Campus Representations’ efforts toward truth and reconciliation. The poignant personal stories of Antonio and Antonia Teixeira highlight the struggles institutions face when confronting their past.

Through this enlightening episode, the audience gains a comprehensive understanding of how deep-rooted beliefs continue to influence religious communities in the Americas. By examining the intersection of theology and justice, Chaves challenges listeners to reflect on the transformative power of faith in the context of immigration issues and ethnic solidarity.

As we conclude, it becomes evident that the echoes of the Doctrine of Discovery still reverberate throughout the Americas, shaping not only the religious sphere but also the broader sociopolitical context. The episode serves as a testament to the importance of understanding our shared history to envision a more equitable future. Join us in this captivating exploration of colonialism, faith, and identity, as we navigate the sensitive landscapes of our past and present, aiming for a deeper comprehension of the complex tapestry that is Latin American history.


  • Philip P. Arnold and Sandra Bigtree, “Ten Religious Themes of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (DoCD) that Contrast with Indigenous Values,” Doctrine of Discovery Project (26 September 2022), https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/10-religous-dimensions/.

  • Philip P. Arnold, The Urgency of Indigenous Values, (Syracuse: SU Press, 2023), https://press.syr.edu/supressbooks/5835/urgency-of- Indigenous-values-the/

  • Chaves, João B. Migrational Religion: Context and Creativity in the Latinx Diaspora. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2021.

  • ———. The Global Mission of the Jim Crow South: Southern Baptist Missionaries and the Shaping of Latin American Evangelicalism. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2022.

  • Parsons, Mikeal C., and João B. Chaves. Remembering Antônia Teixeira: A Story of Missions, Violence, and Institutional Hypocrisy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2023.

  • Scales, T. Laine, and João B. Chaves, eds. Baptists and the Kingdom of God: Global Perspectives. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2023.


  • Music: Onondaga Social Dance songs performed by Orris Edwards and Regis Cook
  • Producers: Jordan Loewen-Colón and Adam DJ Brett
  • Show notes: Adam DJ Brett


Philip P. Arnold and Sandra Bigtree, “S04E06: Unveiling Histories: Colonialism, Faith, and Identity in the Americas with João Chaves,” Mapping the Doctrine of Discovery (Podcast), May 16, 2024. https://podcast.doctrineofdiscovery.org/season4/episode-06/.

This podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons by the Indigenous Values Initiative.
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