Over the last couple of days, I have read newspaper accounts in the BBC news of the Dalit Hindus converting in mass to Buddhism, or the Roma in Bulgaria to Pentecostalism. In each case, it is about using an “outside” system to wedge against an internal system of oppression.
By becoming Buddhist, the Dalit “untouchables” set themselves up to become more equal human beings. The article is a bit misleading in terms of describing thousands who attended and only hundreds who actually converted, but it is an interesting phenomemon.
By becoming Pentecostal, the Roma get access to schools and money to build their communities. These conversions thus are less about religion and more about finding a more equitable path through life.
This often happened in colonial times where the first converts to Christianity were the social outcasts and marginal citizens of society. Actually, it continues today with the rise of Pentecostalism in Africa.