LIVE SUMMIT UPDATES
• Wed. 1/31 at 2:00 pm ET: Breakout Session on Christian Persecution in Latin America
Speaker Martha Patricia Molina, a lawyer and religious freedom expert, discussed Christian persecution in Nicaragua at length, explaining how the government interfered with thousands of religious processions, most notably during Holy Week in 2023.
The administration of President Ortega has forcefully removed and/or imprisoned priests, nuns and members of the clergy who have been critical of the leader, including Bishop Rolando Alvarez who was held in solitary confinement before eventually being exiled to the Vatican; Ortega has accused the church leaders of encouraging a coup.
According to Molina, many religious leaders who remain in the country are currently being subjected to financial Christian persecution, including frozen personal bank accounts and unusually large tax burdens placed upon houses of worship.
Dr. Kyle Wisdom (Deputy Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom) discussed the new Violent Incidents Database funded by Global Christian Relief, which is currently tracking over 6,800 incidences of persecution around the globe, to date. Taking a question from the audience about the benefits of the database, Wisdom explained that it is searchable and accessible to anyone, and the information and sources it cites will assist organizations with accurate reporting of persecution.
The panel of six speakers also discussed Christian persecution in Cuba. A recent survey of randomly selected Cuban citizens found that nearly 7 in 10 people had either been personally subjected to religious persecution—or knew someone who had been negatively impacted by it.
Lastly, the panel touched upon religious persecution caused by organized crime syndicates and drug cartels. Wisdom recalled a recent story about Christian persecution in Mexico in which a pastor experienced death threats from drug cartel members for doing something seemingly benign: organizing an informal youth soccer league. It is believed that the pastor’s actions may have reduced the cartel’s access to young errand runners and drug transporters.
Photo Caption: Panelists discuss religious persecution in Latin America and persecution data tracking.