Indians look to guerrillas, many Ladinos to government.
The correspondent who filed this report, based on on-the-spot interviews with the people affected, does not live in Guatemala, but travels extensively in South and Central America.
Violence is no respecter of churches. In Guatemala, evangelical churches are being drawn inexorably into the escalating violence. Protestant missionaries, as well as Catholic clergymen, have been threatened out of disputed areas. Leftist guerrillas deliver 48-hour ultimatums to those they believe to be government collaborators. A spokesman for the right observed, “We do not deliver ultimatums. We exterminate our suspects.”
Since the beginning of this year, at least two Indian pastors have been killed and others have been threatened by rightist death squads. One pastor was related to the churches of a well-known fundamentalist faith mission, another was a Pentecostal. Apparently they were singled out simply because they are natural leaders in villages that are sympathetic to the guerrilla movement.
In the early years of Protestantism in Guatemala, evangélicos were persecuted by Roman Catholics for carrying Bibles. Today, in some regions of Guatemala, peasants—Catholic or Protestant—who carry Bibles become objects of suspicion. In the Catholic grassroots communities (comunidades de base), the Bible, and not Das Kapital, is the motivating force behind the popular resistance to government repression.
Explosive Indian Growth
The Presbyterian Church of Guatemala was recently forced to reactivate a long dormant Commission for the Defense of Presbyterian Interests, because of the growing number of violations of the civil rights of their membership. Until the 1950s (next year the Presbyterian Church will ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more