Divorcing a Dictator

Evangelicals assess the bitter lessons of the Fujimori years
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Along with most of their fellow citizens, Peru's evangelical Christians celebrated the November ouster of President Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori ruled the country with an iron hand for ten years until charges of corruption and election fraud finally drove him from office.

The day Fujimori tendered his resignation, the Movement of Evangelicals for Democracy (MED) declared, "We believe the prayers of thousands of Christians have been heard by the God of justice and truth, who surely rejoices with us today over the unmasking and fall of a regime that was the embodiment of iniquity."

The statement called on Peruvian Christians to "deeply meditate on the lessons that these past ten years have left us. The worst misfortune would be that we permit the vicious legacy of the culture of Fujimorism to remain alive in our personal, family, and national life."

Christians Double-Crossed


Such strident condemnation by evangelicals represents a conspicuous about-face, since Protestants had been among Fujimori's staunchest supporters. In fact, had it not been for Peru's evangelicals, political analysts say, the country would never have elected him president in the first place.

The relationship began during the 1990 presidential campaign. Fujimori, a Roman Catholic, enlisted key evangelical church leaders to support his candidacy. Allies included Carlos GarcÍa, then president of the National Council of Evangelicals of Peru (CONEP). Stumping at ministers' meetings and church rallies, Fujimori told Protestant audiences that the political philosophy of his fledgling Cambio 90 party was based on the "twin pillars of the Constitution and the Bible."

Hundreds of thousands of evangelical voters, eager to bring about political and social change, supported ...

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