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Mayor 'Gives Away' Mexico's Wealthiest City to Jesus, Prompting Church-State Debate

Pastors' group partners with cities—and local politicians—to win over evangelicals.

Evangelicals are well acquainted with the practice of dedicating children to Christ, but some pastors in Mexico are taking the practice a few steps further: They're getting entire cities dedicated.

But not everyone is happy about it. After Margarita Arellanes, mayor of Monterrey–the wealthiest and third-largest city in the country–"gave" her city "to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established," critics began pointing out that her weekend speech may have violated the country's rigidly established separation of church and state.

Arellanes, a former lawyer, says she was careful to ensure the legality of her speech, adding in interviews that she acted as a private citizen–not as the city's mayor.

Arellanes isn't the only Mexican mayor to have dedicated her city to the Lord lately. According to The New York Times (NYT), "it turns out that the mayors of Guadalupe and Juárez, two towns close to Monterrey, and of Ensenada, in Baja California, (have) already done the same."

The NYT reports that the dedications are being "orchestrated by the Assembly of Pastors, an evangelical organization with chapters in several cities in northern Mexico. They're a bid to gain ground among Christians: Only 6 percent of Mexicans call themselves evangelicals, compared with 82 percent who say they are Catholic, according to the last census."

Representatives from the Assembly of Pastors reportedly affirmed the secular nature of the event, even though Mexico's restrictive constitution was amended last year to allow religious public events. CT previously has reported on Christianity in Mexico, where churches are "no longer neutral observers" in the violence and drug wars.

Related Topics:Religious Freedom
Posted:June 13, 2013 at 12:06PM
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