Saturday, June 13, 2009


More than 15,000 Christians marched to the Congress Building in Lima on June 11th to ask for Religious Equality. Although granted religious freedom by the Constitution, Peru's none Roman Catholics suffer in many ways on a daily basis, and there are no laws to back up their cause. While the Roman Catholic Church receives financial support from the government, other confessions are penalized.

Since the creation of a Register of Non-Catholic Confessions in 2004, things have been changing. A paper is now before Congress' Constitution Committee and following the March on Thursday it has been put in first place for consideration.

It is hoped that it will give other confessions the right to have chaplains in hospitals, schools, prisons and the armed forces; to enable non Roman Catholics to have a religious education other than Catholic; to liberation from taxes; and the right to enter into agreements with the State, for example on issues of education, relief and development. Attitudes will have to change in the country, but there has been a huge step forward.

For example, for us the possibility of the State paying for our school teachers, as happens with the RC Church, would be an enormous benefit.

I have been involved as one of the assessors to the Ministry of Justice on religious matters, specifically the registration of confessions and on the working group which produced the first draft of the proposed legislation.

We are also in the final stages of a new constitution for the Interreligious Committee of Peru, which will provide a forum for all confessions and their NGOs to meet and talk together. Much is already happening, in areas such as the Bible, justice and peace, relief and development, HIV/AIDS, micro-finance, religious dialogue - but this will bring it all together at national level. There are to be three co-presidents of the new body, the Archbishop of Huancayo, the President of the National Evangelical Council of Peru, and me. Let us pray for God's blessing as the new body begins its work.

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