What Lies Ahead in the Reformation of Latin America?
Since last December, I have been leading a study group on the Christian Principles for the Reformation of Nations (economics, law, politics, education, etc.) Many government officials, engineers, lawyers, pastors, and professors have been attending it. As a result, the National Association of Evangelicals invited me to give the message on “Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State” at the First Presidential Prayer Breakfast held in Bolivia.
The Breakfast took place on January 31. The President attended along with the Vice President, 15 Ministers, more than 60 Senators and Congressmen, a former President, the Governor of La Paz, the Rector of the largest University in Bolivia (who is a communist), several Vice-Ministers, the heads of the Armed Forces, private entrepreneurs, many local and national authorities, as well as 500 Christian pastors and leaders from all around the country.
It was wonderful to see them all together and, most importantly, to know that they heard the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ! The message I gave on religious freedom and the separation of church and state was also well received and a number of ministers and congressmen came afterwards to congratulate me.
Definitely, it was an historical event for Bolivia and most likely for all of Latin America. It was the first time in the history of Bolivia that a President (all of them have been Catholics) shared a prayer meeting with the Evangelicals, therefore recognizing the existence of the Evangelical Church. Usually, the Evangelical Church in Bolivia is derogatorily called “sects” or “cults.” And there is always the false accusation that they respond to the “dictates of yanqui imperialism.”
Of course, we refuted these arguments as ill-founded and false. During the Vice President’s speech, which I moderated, we informed them of how the U.S. government is not even allowing prayer in the public schools, and the fight of the Christian Church in the United States to restore these rights.
The President of Bolivia, going beyond our expectations, strongly supported freedom of religion and even created a controversy bysupporting our measures. The President quoted from the Bible and demonstrated that he had a deep knowledge of scripture and a clear biblical worldview on many aspects of government and public life in general.
After the breakfast, we had six workshops with six different Ministries of the country (Education, Health, etc.) in which we expressed our views on different aspects of interest to the nation. We are now following up on an invitation from the Minister of Education to members of the “Principle Approach to Education” (Rosalie Slater, Paul Jehle, etc.) to come and give some seminars in the public schools on this outstanding educational method based on the Bible.
The main challenge now is to follow up on this, and make sure we do not lose the ground we won. There is a strong reaction from groups that are antagonisticto the Evangelical movement. They are also asking for laws to regulate and control the “sects.” This would mean having to obtain licenses to exist, to preach, to organize conferences, and also having to submit reports on finances, assets, source of funding, and even doctrinal statements!
And the worst thing is that there are some people in government who are very interested in seeing this happen. We still have a tough battle ahead and we are asking citizens of the United States to pray for our nation’s liberty.
We have just proposed a constitutional amendment on the separation of church and state to Congress which would limit the government’s interference in our churches.
The most important project, that we believe the Lord wants us to accomplish, is the Conference of Christian Parliamentarians of the Continent, to be held in 1992, possibly in the Dominican Republic, commemorating the 500 years of the arrival of the Gospel to America. This is an enormous project that has originated in Bolivia.
Although this conference is just starting, it has attracted the expectancy of parliamentarians of Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and other countries, as well as strong interest from people like James Dobson from “Focus on the Family,” Herb Titus from Regent University, Chuck Colson from Prison Fellowship, John Whitehead from the Rutherford Institute and others.
Its purpose would be twofold: to train all these newly elected parliamentarians in the biblical principles of law, economics, politics, foreign affairs, education, etc., and to encourage the Christian population to participate more actively in business, politics, education, and all areas of life, improving our social and political lives through the principles of our Lord and His testimony.
Pedro Moreno is a former member of Maranatha Christian Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Pedro received Christ through the International Student program and is now reforming his country through biblical principles. Pedro studied at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and Harvard University. He now works as the Secretary General for the Bolivian Social Emergency Fund.