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Persecution of Christians in Mexico

MEXICO IS LISTED in the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. It ranks at 41 on the World Watch List of 2017, and is considered to have “high levels of violence against Christians.” Open Doors, the organization that compiles the list, explained to The Anglican Planet why this was and the factors involved:

Four distinct persecution engines are present in Mexico: organized corruption and crime, which is the main engine, and to a lesser extent ethnic antagonism, denominational protectionism and secular intolerance.

* Organized corruption and crime: In many Mexico states violence is widespread and affects actively practicing Christians to a high degree. Churches and other Christian institutions are often seen as revenue centers by drug cartels. The extortion of priests, pastors and Christian business-owners is commonplace. Attending church services increases the threat of kidnapping, and youths are particularly at risk of being recruited into gangs. Social initiatives are also faced with major threats. Drug rehabilitation programs or youth work are perceived as being a direct threat to the interest of drug cartels, and therefore increase the vulnerability of Christians engaging in these programs. There is widespread and sophisticated surveillance of church activities by members of drug cartels.

* Ethnic antagonism: Rural communities in the southern states of Mexico are organized according to indigenous traditional laws and customs, which force all community members into a homogenous lifestyle. As soon as community members accept a different religion, the indigenous laws become a noose that threatens their very existence. In the WWL 2017 reporting period, there has been considerably more pressure on Christians in indigenous areas. These Christians belong mainly to Evangelical and Pentecostal communities, but they also include Presbyterians. Especially in small, rural villages in the southern states of the country, Roman Catholics continue to mix Catholicism with ancient indigenous pagan beliefs. Indigenous authorities have continued to oppose Protestant Christianity and promote among villagers the view that Protestants are trying to undermine their traditional culture. Protestant Christians have been fined, jailed, beaten or murdered because of their faith.

* Secular intolerance: This corresponds with the strong push by UN institutions and NGOs to remove all Christian values from the public sphere, and particularly from the public education system. Such secular legislation effectively reduces the freedom of Christians to openly express their faith in the public sphere. Part of the effect of this persecution engine is that the Christian lifestyle is increasingly being ridiculed.

* Denominational protectionism: This is mainly visible in the opposition of some Roman Catholics to new religious movements such as Pentecostalism or the Catholic Renewal Movement.   TAP                                                                                                                                                            – Open Doors


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