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Tue, 26 Aug 2003 11:44:09 -0700
ALC NEWS SERVICE
BRAZIL: Religious exoticism
NICARAGUA: Manual on Sexual Education provokes divergences
BRAZIL: It is time to learn from those who are different from us, said
PERU: Support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
By Oneide Bobsin
SAO LEOPOLDO, August 19, 2003 (alc). Are you tired of your Church?
Organize your own. This slogan from a North American Evangelical leader is
one of the key explanations for the proliferation of Evangelical Churches
and religious groups in Brazil and other countries in Latin America.
Under current Brazilian legislation it is easier to open a new Church than
a small company. All you need are need eight people to form a board, to
draft a constitution and register it in a notary. The new Church then has
the necessary legal status to operate.
As a result, the religious arena is opened to liberal market logic, leading
to the privatization of the faith and the religious business.
We can confirm this thesis in both Evangelical and secular communication
media. The magazine Eclesia, for example, recently published a list of
names of so-called new Evangelical Churches. The names demonstrate religion
under the influence of the specific and immediate interests of leaders and
Many of the exotic names reveal the individualist spirit of the times. For
example: Anti-blasphemy Congregation, the Evangelical Abomination of the
Twisted Life Church and the Recycled Heart Community.
The first disciples of Jesus are a source of inspiration for the new
Churches: Ship of Salvation Church, the Evangelical Church of the Last Ship
of Christ, and the Evangelical Faithful Even Under Water Association.
There is also a place for personal fame: The Evangelical Crusade of Pastor
Waldevino Coelho and the Pastor Sassa Evangelical Pentecostal Church.
The fire of the Spirit also motivates the creation of Churches such as the
following: the Church of the Sacred Fire, the Explosion of Faith Church and
the Blue Fire Pentecostal Church.
While some of the exotic names may even make us laugh some practices make
us cry. Secular media, with little interest in reporting, tend to merely
announce the practices of these so-called new Evangelicals.
The Exorcism Clinic was allegedly created in a major urban center. In the
first session, the patient, supposedly demonized, is submitted to an
interrogation. They are then treated with electric shocks. If the demons do
not abandon the person they are sent to the holy torture chamber, known
as Pau de Arara. If the demon continues to resist they go to Third Degree
Intensive Treatment, which reportedly consists in eliminating the possessed
News about child abuse in religious centers that practice exorcism attracts
readers who are thirsty for tragedy and excitement. In a recent case, a
child was beaten against a wall until he fainted while his mother looked
on. A week later the child died. The religious leader did not know the
difference between religion and insanity.
Clearly, under the precept of religious freedom, guaranteed by the
Brazilian Constitution, religious leaders submit people and groups to their
There is an urgent need for the ecumenical movement to help nations
elaborate ethical and legal criteria to protect people from certain leaders
and religious groups. The new Brazilian Civil Code has taken some steps but
much more is needed.
I would even go so far as to suggest the creation of a Service to Protect
the Consumer from Religious Goods. In the end, between religious freedom
and the commercial dispute for souls there should be ecumenical and
Manual on Sexual Education provokes divergences
By Trinidad Vasquez
MANAGUA, August 19, 2003 (alc). A Sexual Education Manual being prepared by
the Ministry of Education has sparked intense debate between conservative
religious sectors, teachers and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) that
work to combat domestic violence.
Violeta Delgado, director of the Womens Network against Violence, the
National Association of Nicaraguan Educators (ANDEN) and the Civil Youth
Coordinator, support the Ministry of Educations project.
The networks believe that the manual is an important step to provide real
information for teachers and students, thereby contributing to preventing
sexually transmitted diseases, AIDs, unwanted pregnancies and the sexual
abuse of children.
The Pro Life Association and the Evangelical Alliance of Nicaragua, that
represents conservative sectors, reject the manual as they believe it
violates morals and promotes sexual freedom.
For example, they say that the manual indicates that sexual life should
begin when the person is ready to assume the consequences but it does not
mention marriage. Moreover, it considers that it is danger when it
recommends using informal channels for sexual education.
In the midst of this polemic the National Council of Evangelical Pastors,
published a communiqui stating We are not afraid to raise our prophetic
voice and warn about the danger involved in not being very clear about
terms such as new models of sexuality, learning to be men and women.
We would never be afraid to ensure our right to decide what type of
education our children should receive in the light of the constitutional
precept. Sex is a gift from God, why should we be scandalized?, asked the
president of the Council, the Rev. Norman Marenco.
For its part, the Catholic Bishops Conference, in a pastoral letter dated
August 13, warned that children and young people are being threatened by a
new wave of sensuality and sexual corruption, that is sometimes based on
sordid economic interests.
The infiltration of ideologies and theories that promote a confusing and
ambiguous sexual education is a grave danger that education in the country
faces, said the document, alluding to the Sexual Education Manual.
On the other hand, the Gynecology and Obstetricians Society approves the
manual, as they believe it will reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Early sexual education will reduce unwanted pregnancies by 80 percent, said
Dr. Denis Aleman, president of the society. Moreover, advisor Oscar Flores
said that statements from the Pro Life Association are exaggerated and
tendentious because they have used words that are not contained in the
It is time to learn from those who are different from us, said Anglican
By Edelberto Behs
SANTA MARIA, August 21, 2003 (alc). It is time to remain calm, to learn
from those who are different and to pray for the peace and health of the
Church of Christ, said the Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church of
Brazil, (IEAB), Jubal Neves.
These concepts are included in a Pastoral Letter written for clergy and
faithful from the South-Western Diocese of the IEAB, based in this city in
the state of Rio Grande do Sul in which the bishop asks, How should we
respond to the ordination of a homosexual bishop?
Neves was invited to participate in the Episcopal Church in the United
States Convention (ECUSA), that recently gathered in Minneapolis.
During the Convention, the ratification of Gene Robinson as coadjutor
bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, sparked polemic in the world
Anglican Communion as Robinson is a declared homosexual who has been living
with his partner for the past 12 years.
In the process and its results, we clearly perceived that Robinson was not
elected for being a confessed gay but because his diocese wanted a bishop
with his ministerial qualities and his pastoral testimony, said the
Brazilian bishop in his Pastoral Letter.
Neves recalled that the Church was shaken when it changed its point of
view regarding slavery in the XIX Century and when it decided to consecrate
women bishops in the XX Century, and by the current vote in the ECUSA
He added that we do not have to be in agreement or disagreement with the
decisions made by the ECUSA General Convention, but rather we must respect
both opinions, those who are in agreement and those who disagree,
accepting the autonomy of the North American dioceses.
It is time to remain calm, to not feed discord and division, a moment of
humility to relearn to respect those who are different, to pray for the
peace and health of the entire Church of Christ, in order to be a true sign
and a means of transformation and reconciliation, warned Neves.
He announced, moreover, that the Chamber of Bishops from the IEAB will
present a Pastoral Letter focusing on the issue of human sexuality.
Support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
By Hugo Livano
LIMA, August 23, 2003 (alc). The National Evangelical Council of Peru
(CONEP), the Peruvian Bishops Conference and the civil entity So it not
be repeated, publicly expressed their support for the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, slated to deliver its final report to President
Alejandro Toledo next Thursday.
The government created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) two
years ago in order to establish the truth about human rights violations
that took place during the battle against terrorism between 1980 and 2000.
The conflict left 60,000 dead in its wake according to the commission,
thousands of disappeared, victims of torture and innocent people accused
and jailed on terrorism charges.
The Evangelical community suffered the insanity of terrorism and the
abuse of power on the part of authorities who should have protected
civilians. For this reason, there is a need to confront the past, not to
open wounds but to heal them The process will be long but is necessary,
according to a letter from CONEP, addressed to President Toledo and signed
by its president the Rev. Dario Lopez.
It is not strange that on the eve of the presentation of the TRCs final
report there are people and groups that seek to invalidate the work that
the commission has carried out. No similar report in other countries has
been welcome by all, but it is important not to forget that it is the
victims and those who are affected who must be supported. For them, and for
future generations, it is worth strengthening what they (the TRC) are
doing, he added.
Truth and justice are fundamental for governance, added the CONEP letter.
Among other things, it called on President Toledo to create a body to
follow-up on the commissions recommendations immediately after the report
Catholic Bishops, meanwhile, declared that the depth of the violence
should be known in order to purify the collective memory of our past
history and this requires our repentance and forgiveness.
The communiqui from the Bishops Conference underlines that reconciliation
is only possible when you know the truth. We must not hide it, or
exaggerate it, or diminish it. Only then will repentance flourish in some
and forgiveness in others.
In lobbying for justice and solidarity, the bishops emphasized that one of
the commitments that all Peruvians must assume is that they will never
again be confronted with the possibility of resolving social problems
through violence and terror.
The association So it not be repeated, which includes several civil and
human rights organizations, delivered more than 22,000 signatures to the
government palace supporting the TRC. The executive director of the
National Human Rights Coordinator, Francisco Soberon, also called for the
creation of a body to follow-up on the recommendations.
He recalled that the TRC does not have a judicial mandate, although it is
expected to identify some of those responsible for human rights violations
and will recommend that some of the authors be prosecuted. Once the facts
are presented there is a need to promote the action of justice, said
This support for the TRC took place at a time when different voices are
questioning its work. Not only spokespeople from the former Alberto
Fujimori government but some politicians have criticized what they have
dubbed a biased attitude toward terrorists and a presumed negative attitude
toward the military.
The Association of General and Admirals (ADOGEN) that groups together high
ranking retired officers, said that the report will state that the armed
forces have a type of shared responsibility with the crimes committed by
terrorism. This, they say, could originate a series of unjust
denouncements against military and police officers.
The final report, that contains five volumes, each between 300 and 500
pages, will be given to President Toledo during a special ceremony in the
Government Place. Copies will also be delivered to the heads of the
Legislative and Judicial branch and the Ombudsman. On August 29 it will be
presented during an act in the city of Ayacucho, in the southeastern Andes,
an area that was particularly hard hit by the violence.
Agencia Latinoamericana y Caribeqa de Comunicacisn (ALC)
P.O. Box 14-225 Lima 14 Peru
Tel. (51 1) 462 0142 Telefax (51 1) 463 2496
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