Despite concerns about a staunchly Catholic president, Protestant leaders are optimistic about freedom of religion.

Several months prior to this year’s elections in Nicaragua, Ignacio Hernández, general director of the Nicaraguan Bible Society, dropped off some materials at the headquarters of Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo. Upon spotting Hernández, the highly influential Catholic cardinal invited him into his office, where they chatted for nearly an hour. To evangelicals who are somewhat anxious about what will happen when Violeta Chamorro takes over as president later this month, this represents an encouraging sign.

Regarding Nicaragua’s president-elect, Protestant leaders have generally adopted an attitude that lies somewhere between optimism and wait-and-see. The 60-year-old Chamorro, whose National Opposition Union party (UNO) in February stunned observers around the world with a 55 to 41 percent victory over the ruling Sandinista party, has made no secret of her deep Roman Catholic convictions. Indeed, in comments prior to the election, she sounded almost mystical. The Miami Herald quoted Chamorro after her nomination for president as telling supporters, “I have asked the advice of Pedro Joaquín [her slain publisher husband] and of God whether I should serve as a link of love with all of you, and they said, ‘Yes.’ ”

Without speculating on which candidate evangelicals favored, Protestant church leaders expressed universal pleasure—and relief—that the elections were bloodless and apparently clean. “As an evangelical, I am content our people made this decision in a free election,” said Gilberto Aguirre, executive director of the church agency CEPAD.

Said Gustavo Sevilla, president of the National Council of Evangelical Pastors ...

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