By Pedro C. Moreno
Published August 1, 1992
The Lower Chamber of the Mexican Congress recently approved a “Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship” that attempts, at least partially, to restore religious liberties in that country.
The new law recognizes a church’s right to own private property (Art. 16); for its ministers to wear clerical clothing in public; have its legal status recognized by the government (Art. 7); and have a separate legal existence from the state (Art. 1). It also guarantees the individual the right “not to be compelled to contribute with money or goods to support an association, church or any religious group,” nor be compelled to “participate or contribute in the same way in rites, ceremonies, festivals, services or acts of religious cults” (Art. 2(d)). The sixth article of the law establishes that “religious associations are equal before the law in rights and obligations.”
This translates into no special privileges for the Catholic Church or a state-established religion. However, this law still expresses the religious intolerance such as that which took place when the state promoted the predominance of the Catholic Church in the past century. On the negative side, the new law bans religious institutions from owning TV and radio stations or newspapers, allowing only the use of them under certain conditions and licenses (Art. 16, second paragraph). Likewise, public religious worship must have consent of the state (Art. 22).
The new law hinders liberty of association, movement, speech and religious freedom that the Mexican Constitution recognizes. For instance, the new law considers any religious association that has not been registered with the government to be a “punishable infringement.” Clearly such a provision, besides being impracticable, is unconstitutional. The state attributions under the new law go as far as to make it the “arbiter” in conflicts between religious groups!
Despite the above mentioned insufficiencies, the new regime of religious freedom in Mexico is clearly superior to the one in effect until now. The new law amends several articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution, particularly the Article 130. In its original form the Constitution’s Article 130 established the “intervention” of federal powers in “worship matters and external discipline.” Likewise, it did not recognize the legal status of any religious association; granted the state legislatures the right to establish the “top number” of ministers of certain religious groups; forbade the ministers of these groups from “criticizing” the government; and severely restrained the private property of churches.
Congressman Amador Rodriguez Lozano, president of the Human Rights Committee of the Lower Chamber, commented on the difficulty of dealing and approving a law of this type and defined the issue of church and state relations as “untouchable.”
Rodriguez describes it as a question of “two territories — God’s and Caesar’s — on which the same and free people journeys.” Rodriguez adds that “the Mexican state has learned the importance of recognizing and placing in its strictly spiritual dimension, the role of belief and attitudes of the people’s profound religious faith.”
“The state knows perfectly,” he says, “that the concept of faith is valid in the people, not only in the religious aspect, but in the issues regarding the institutional trust in civil life.”
President Carlos Salinas de Gortari affirmed this by expressing his “respect and support” for all religious groups in that country.
Mañuel Gomez Granados, director of the Mexican Institute of Christian Social Doctrine, which is connected to the Catholic Church, comments that the modifications to Article 130 “will facilitate the development of a new evangelization in the country only if the (Catholic) Church assumes its responsibility; because if it does not, it is irrelevant that the law changes.” The Catholic Church will continue to be “fossilized in some aspects, anchored in the past, without moral strength to transform the people.”1
Referring to evangelization, Gomez Granados adds: “If we are honest people, we will say that the evangelization in our country has been a weak, deficient one, a superficial polish, when evangelization must change the innermost parts of the human being, giving him a lifestyle of total confidence in God, of austerity, or work.”2
Currently, religious plurality in Mexico is expressed by the existence of around 175 different religious groups. The Protestants are, after the Catholics, the second largest group, with 17 million adherents.
“Within the modernization of religious life as a social process,” writes G. de Jesus Huchim Hoyoc, exists a “wide and open religious market which means that every church accepts the challenges of competition, productivity and efficacy. Each denomination will have to demonstrate or reaffirm its competitiveness in proselytism. This is particularly applicable in the case of the Catholic Church.”
Huchim Koyoc continues, “The state has no business protecting the inefficiency of any religious association in keeping or increasing the number of its members (or quota in the religious market). The dynamics of each church, its capability to maintain or increase its participation in such a market, must depend fundamentally on its own effort, and not on some form of state protectionism”3
This way, Mexico advances toward the consolidation of a regime which will allow an authentic and full religious plurality, will strengthen its democratic process and will preserve the civil and political liberties so dear to the Mexican people.
1 David Perez Calleja, El Nacional, July 8, 1992.
3 El Nacional, July14, 1992.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Latin America
Your comments are welcome!
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — 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.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)