Mexico on List of 10 Most Violent Countries Toward Christians

The  ”World Watch List” team from Open Doors recently released a new list of the 10 most violent countries in the world toward Christians (HT: Radical.net). Here’s the list (based on the number of actual “persecution incidents” between Nov. 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, rather than on a country’s general climate of intolerance and persecution):

  1. Nigeria
  2. Syria
  3. Egypt
  4. Central African Republic
  5. Mexico
  6. Pakistan
  7. Colombia
  8. India
  9. Kenya
  10. Iraq
Surprisingly, Mexico made it on the list at #5.  I say “surprisingly” because one wouldn’t expect to see Mexico on the list along with countries like Nigeria, Syria, and India—countries notorious for their violent persecution of believers. And yet, in our brief time here in Oaxaca, we’ve repeatedly heard of  the extreme persecution that takes place in the isolated animistic tribes of Mexico’s southern states.  These thousands of small villages, each governed by their own laws and customs, generally practice “zero-tolerance” toward members of their communities who convert to Christ. Here’s Open Door’s own explanation for Mexico’s inclusion in the list:
Tribal antagonism is Mexico’s main source of violence against Christians, with organized corruption being another important source. Even though Mexico is home to a Christian   majority, local communities in the southern states of Mexico are led by indigenous traditional   “laws of uses and customs” to force all community members into a homogenous lifestyle.  Community members who do not wish to adhere to these customs or accept a different faith –   such as Christians – are met with serious threats and attacks. They are driven from their lands   or are victims of physical violence. Christians that are attacked consist mainly of evangelicals   and Pentecostals and to a lesser extent also Presbyterians. In the states of Hidalgo, Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, local government officials follow the local laws of uses and customs, and ignore the Mexican constitution. Especially in rural areas in southern states of the country,   Christians have been fined, jailed, beaten or murdered because of their faith.  In specific areas,   revolutionary and anti-revolutionary paramilitary groups – intimately linked to organized crime   – operate within a context of impunity and structural violence. Within such a context, Christians are a vulnerable group that constitutes a threat to the hegemony of criminal organizations.
A good example of this persecution comes from a Zapotec village where our team will be conducting an outreach next week. In the last three years we’ve heard several reports of persecution against believers in the the region.  This village alone has a history of antagonism toward Christianity. Nearly 30 years ago, before they were converted to Christ, the one believing couple in the village were themselves responsible for denying evangelical Bible translators access to their village. Now, all these years later, they have many stories to tell of the suffering that they themselves have endured at the hands of their own people since turning to Christ. Similarly, on our last trip to the area we were told of several people from a nearby community who were run out of their village simply because they were believers. Stories like these abound. When multiplied by the thousands of villages scattered over Mexico’s southern Sierra Madre mountains, these stories explain why America’s nearest southern neighbor made it on this list.
Please pray for the persecuted indigenous church in Mexico!

 

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