The US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, is in Mexico to discuss how its federal and state governments are adhering to their international obligations to uphold freedom of religion and belief.
As World Watch Monitor has reported, Mexican Christians who branch away from the “traditionalist” village churches, which blend aspects of indigenous paganism and popular Catholicism, face pressure to return to the fold or leave their villages.
Lauro Pérez Núñez, a convert to Protestant Christianity, last year was ordered to leave his village and has only recently been permitted to return home. But Núñez’s case is far from a one-off. Here is a list of other recent and ongoing cases.
In July, Radio Fórmula, a Mexican radio station, reported that at least 164 families are currently displaced in the state of Chiapas because of their Christian faith.
“There is no progress in resolving these conflicts of religious intolerance,” said Dennis Petri of Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians under pressure because of their faith. “Most cases have been neglected by the state government, even though they are very serious and worrying social problems. Hostilities in rural areas against Christians are increasing. On 10 June, 11 people belonging to one family were murdered in the state of Puebla, according to a blog on the website Coordinación de Organizaciones Cristianas. If confirmed, this would be the most violent case of religious persecution so far.”
On 7 Aug., Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that the mayor of the town of San Juan Chamula – also in Chiapas – was murdered after pledging to eradicate religious intolerance.
“The murder of Domingo López is highly significant,” said Petri. “It stresses once more just how hostile the community is to anyone who is considered a threat to the traditional religion.”
After talks in Mexico City, Saperstein will visit Hidalgo, one of the states where Christians are most under pressure.