A report on religious freedom released recently claims that “more Roman Catholic priests and lay leaders were killed in Mexico in 2014 than any other country in the world…”
2/2/2015 New Mexico (CSW)-A new report on religious freedom violations in Mexico, released today by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), reveals that more Roman Catholic priests and lay leaders were killed in Mexico in 2014 than any other country in the world, while Christian leaders from other denominations face similar threats from criminal groups.
Religious freedom violations take place on a regular basis across Mexico but are exacerbated by inaction on the part of the state and federal governments to proactively uphold religious freedom, and to hold those responsible for criminal acts in the name of religion to account.
In addition, the rise of powerful criminal groups in many parts of the country has had a chilling effect on religious freedom. They often consider churches an attractive target for extortion and as fronts for money laundering, and believe that church leaders pose a threat to their influence and aims. In 2014, more Roman Catholic priests and lay leaders were killed in Mexico than in any other country in the world. Christian leaders from other denominations face the same threats, though their cases are under-reported.
Religious intolerance is the main cause of religious freedom violations, which are particularly high in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla and Guerrero. Many parts of these states are governed under the Law of Uses and Customs, which allows indigenous communities to govern themselves according to traditional laws and customs. The law is meant to be exercised in line with the individual rights guaranteed in the constitution, but in reality the government at both the state and federal level does little to enforce this. As a result, the rights of religious minorities are routinely violated.
CSW’s report details rights violations including the deprivation of basic services from minorities such as water and electricity, minority children barred from attending school and minority groups stripped of their civil and political rights, including the right to vote. In addition, religious minorities are often banned from burying their deceased in public cemeteries and face prohibitions on worship, the destruction of property, violence and forced displacement. The government rarely takes action to address these violations, leading to a culture of impunity and a sense that the majority religious group has the right to enforce religious beliefs in the community.