The United States’ southern neighbor remains a home of violence against evangelical believers.

While debating a proposed free-trade agreement with Mexico, many North Americans have noted that country’s burgeoning economy. What many politicians and journalists have failed to see, however, is a continued human-rights problem in southern Mexico.

María Gómez stands on her porch and wipes the tears away. She is grieving the loss of her husband, Melecio. Other evangelicals grieve the loss of friends or homes. Despite recent state government efforts to curb interreligious violence in southern Mexico, indigenous evangelicals continue to face assault, stonings, and eviction from their homelands; some even face martyrdom.

And while new hope seems to exist in the formation of a new and unprecedented alliance of Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders who oppose the persecution, many doubt that change will come very fast.

The Persecution

In June, Presbyterian lay preacher Melecio Gómez, 32, was brutally killed in a hail of gunfire and his body hacked with a machete while a young son and a daughter, who were accompanying him, scrambled for safety (CT, Aug. 17, 1992, p. 52). Gómez’s crime was to defy village leaders intent on intimidating and ultimately expelling evangelicals from the small hamlet of Saltillo in the state of Chiapas.

In May, believers in Amatenango del Valle were forced to leave the town when local leaders reportedly urged villagers to ransack believers’ homes. Soon after, the entire congregation of some 80 members was expelled from the village. The fledgling congregation, just over a year old, appealed to state authorities. Today an unprecedented treaty brokered by the state governor’s office has allowed believers to return ...

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