Nicarauga: The Government’s Heavy Hand Falls on Believers

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The Sandinistas crack down on Protestant activity.

Protestant and Catholic church leaders are facing increased harassment from Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Last month, staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ International were placed under house arrest, literature was confiscated from religious groups, and the Nicaraguan Bible Society was told to cease activities.

The government of Nicaragua has been operating under a state of emergency declared in October. It has suspended several civil liberties, including press freedom and the right to assemble.

In addition, it has cracked down heavily on evangelistic activity, particularly among church groups that have remained politically neutral by their refusal to endorse the 1979 revolution that brought the Sandinistas to power.

Among the Protestant leaders interrogated recently are Felix Rosales and Saturnino Cerrato of the Evangelical Pastors’ Council (CNPEN); Assemblies of God pastor Guillermo Garcia Hernandez; and twin brothers Roberto and Benedicto Hernandez, who are on Campus Crusade’s staff and lead an Assemblies of God youth organization. Maria Teresa Madrigal, director of Child Evangelism in Nicaragua, was also detained and questioned. The Sandinistas reportedly suspect some church leaders of encouraging counterrevolutionary activities.

The copastors of Nicaragua’s largest Protestant Church, La Primera Iglesia Centroamericano de Managua, were held overnight, questioned, and placed under tight restrictions after being released. They must stay in Managua, report each day to state security forces, and refrain from evangelism.

One of the copastors, Jimmy Hassan, is Campus Crusade’s director in Nicaragua. Crusade spokesman John Jones said Hassan was not active politically, ...

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