By Editorial Staff
Published February 1, 1991
By Dave Miller
LA PAZ, Bolivia (FR) – “As a Christian and as a lawyer, I believe that one of the greatest contributions I can make to the evangelization of our people is to work for an environment of broad religious liberty, where the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can be preached, without interference, for the benefit of the whole country.”
So states Dr. Pedro C. Moreno, 29, an attorney in La Paz, Bolivia. To fulfill his goal, Moreno has been working since September of 1990 to organize the first chapter of the Rutherford Institute on South American soil.
Founded in 1982, the Rutherford Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to defense of religious liberty. It provides legal services, without charge, to persons suffering discrimination or persecution for their religious beliefs. Priorities include preserving free, public speech on religious issues, protecting the constitutional rights of churches and religious organizations and supporting the sanctity of all human life. The Institute named Dr. Moreno its South American representative last year, hoping eventually to expand into every country in the region.
The La Paz lawyer will have his work cut out for him in Bolivia, a country with a history of religious intolerance. Until 1906, for example, “proselytism” was a criminal offense. As recently as 1949, six Baptist evangelists, one a Canadian missionary, were beaten to death by an anti-Protestant mob in Mercamaya, a small town near Oruro. Sporadic cases of religious persecution – beatings, vandalism, and job discrimination – continue to the present.
Official discrimination against non-catholic “sects” continues as well. Though President Jaime Paz Zamora has privately assured evangelical church leaders that he welcomes their presence in the country, members of his administration are proposing rigid controls on the activities of Protestant churches. The regulations would require non-catholic entities to register each member’s name and address with the government. The Under-secretary for Religious Affairs would review the doctrinal beliefs of Protestant denominations before granting them authorization to hold public meetings or plant new congregations.
Moreno points out that the proposed restrictions not only seriously hamper Christians from fulfilling the Great Commission, but are patently unconstitutional. A graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and a former advisor in the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he is keenly aware of the importance of religious freedom in democratic society.
In an address entitled “Religious Liberty, the Foundation of all other Freedoms,” that Moreno delivered at Bolivia’s first Presidential Prayer Breakfast in January of 1990, he proposed a constitutional amendment which would stop government interference in religion. In that speech, he quoted his nation’s founder, Simon Bolivar, who firmly believed in this constitutional principle. “The state cannot govern the conscience of its subjects,” wrote Bolivar, “nor grant reward or punishment, because God is its only Authority.”
Bolivar’s ideals coincide with the legal philosophy of the Rutherford Institute, which traces its judicial tradition to Samuel Rutherford, a 17th century Scottish scholar. Rutherford is remembered for his resistance to the divine right of kings, a prevailing social doctrine in his day. In his pivotal book, Lex Rex, Rutherford argued that all men – monarchs included – are subject to the law, regardless of their station in society. Rutherford’s ideal became a foundation stone for the development of democracy in Europe and the New World.
American constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, concerned that political and social forces around the world are threatening the basic human rights of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, founded the Rutherford Institute eight years ago. The organization now has affiliates in 30 states in the U.S. and 8 foreign countries, notably in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Dr. Moreno left his position as General Secretary of the Social Emergency Fund to establish Rutherford’s South American branch.
To date he has recruited 18 lawyers interested in working to defend religious liberty in Bolivia, where discrimination continues against non-catholics. Reports have surfaced of protestant teachers fired from public schools because of their religious beliefs. In some cases, students have been forced to accept baptism, contrary to their convictions, in order to continue their studies. One of the Institute’s major emphases is to educate persons to exercise their constitutional rights, in hopes of ending such illegal abuses.
“In this manner, we can accomplish an effective work in favor of religious liberty both here and throughout South America,” says Moreno who has made contact with attorneys from Argentina to Colombia who have expressed a desire to cooperate in Institute activities.
Anyone wishing to obtain more information about the Rutherford Institute’s services may do so by writing: Dr. Pedro Moreno San Juan, The Rutherford Institute, Casilla 12754, La Paz, Bolivia.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Latin America
Your comments are welcome!
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)