Santa Ana, CA (April 14, 2023) – According to Global Christian Relief, America’s leading watchdog of Christian persecution, the rate of persecution for Christians in many Latin American countries is rising sharply. More and more frequently in areas across Central and South America, governments are condemning church activities, imprisoning and expelling priests and church officials, and passing laws that force churches to comply. Guerrilla-controlled cartels and gangs often threaten or kill those who object to the drug trade and view the church as a threat to their growing power.
“We tend to think of Christian persecution as something that happens ‘over there,’ thousands of miles away. But these acts of religious oppression are happening to fellow believers right on America’s doorstep,” said David Curry, CEO of Global Christian Relief. “We need to stand with our brothers and sisters in Jesus who are suffering in these areas of the world through prayer and support and let them know they are not alone. The church is primed to be an anchor for these communities, a refuge from the violence and corruption, a place for healing.”
In Nicaragua, at least 190 attacks were made against the church between 2018 and 2022, according to Catholic News Agency. More recently, the President Ortega-led government expelled 222 people considered political prisoners. One Catholic official among them, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, refused to leave and has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. Those who did leave were given asylum in the United States. Nicaragua is on the U.S. State Department’s Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list for “particularly sever violations of religious freedom.”
Christians in Mexico and Colombia experience a variety of difficulties, including threats and intimidation by gangs, human trafficking and political instability. In rural areas, Christians often come into conflict with family and community members who believe in ancestral and traditional religions.
“The situation for followers of Jesus is deteriorating very rapidly, especially in the countryside,” said Curry. “For example, Christian farmers in Colombia who refuse to grow the coca leaf face some of the most intense persecution in the world—death by drug cartel.”
In Cuba, Christians face a communist regime that espouses anti-religious ideology, suppresses freedom of thought and has historically tried to limit the influence of the church. Requests to register new churches are often refused and those leading unlicensed house churches can be fined and have their property confiscated.
“Violence continues to explode across Latin America, with almost no area getting any better. Religious liberty is in many places non-existent or under great pressure,” said Curry. “Our heart as Global Christian Relief is to stand with persecuted Christians were they facing the greatest challenges for their faith. We plan to support fellow believers for the long haul by investing in ministry and training so they can be a light for the gospel in their communities.”
For interviews with David Curry, please contact Paige Collins at Icon Media Group, at: [email protected].
About Global Christian Relief
Global Christian Relief (GCR) is America’s leading watchdog organization focused on the plight of persecuted Christians worldwide. In addition to equipping the Western church to advocate and pray for the persecuted, GCR works in the most restrictive countries to protect and encourage Christians threatened by faith-based discrimination and violence. Dr. David Curry, president of GCR, currently serves on the United States Commission on Religious Freedom. For more information, visit globalchristianrelief.org