LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pentecostals are beginning to move away from one defining trait of their faith: speaking in tongues.
The Assemblies of God, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the world, highlighted its massive growth in August, while noting a decline in speaking in tongues. Pentecostals believe speaking in tongues may be an unlearned human language or it may be the language of angels.
Experts say mainline Pentecostal denominations have put less emphasis on speaking in tongues to shift away from any off-putting aspects of the faith.
Meanwhile, newer strands of Pentecostalism — often with roots in countries like Nigeria and El Salvador — are still emphasizing the practice. These smaller, niche congregations popping up in small neighborhoods are more concerned with the grassroots experience than appealing to the masses.