CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Socratic Club will sponsor a debate on the topic, "The Influence of Christianity on Latin America:  Beneficial or Destructive?" on Monday, Jan. 23.

The free, public debate will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Milam Auditorium on the OSU campus. The speakers are Joseph Orosco and Nicole von Germeten.

The influence of Christianity on Latin American life and culture has long been debated. The names of conquistadors such as Cortes have become synonymous with the brutality of Spanish imperialism. But some missionaries and bishops have drawn attention for their efforts to defend human rights. Latin American history has become a battleground for historians' disputes over the influence of Christianity on native cultures.

Von Germeten, an associate professor of Latin American history at OSU, will argue that Christianity exercised a positive influence on Latin American culture. She is the author of "Black Blood Brothers," which describes the social and religious life of Africans in Mexico; and of a translation of Alonso de Sandoval's 1627 guide for missionaries working with African slaves in colonial Colombia.

Orosco, an associate professor of philosophy at OSU, will take the position that Christianity had a mostly-negative effect on Latin American culture. He serves as a faculty adviser to the Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez and teaches classes on Latin American thought. Orosco is the author of the book "Cesar Chavez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence."

For more information visit the OSU Socratic Club online at Debates can also be viewed at:

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Gary Ferngren, 541-737-1262