Evangelism Criminalized in Bolivia
January 16, 2018
The new law, which will soon be approved by President Evo Morales, states (translated from Spanish):
Whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 5 to 12 years of imprisonment.
The leftist/communist government in Bolivia has cracked down on all forms of dissent, particularly those coming from Christian churches. Evangelical leaders in the country say they are “deeply troubled,” however, by this latest development.
ANDEB is pushing for “dialogue” involving the government, opposition parties, and other social groups to work toward a solution without the use of violence. The group argues that everyday citizens have had little input into the changes in the penal code, which it says is “imprecise, ambiguous, badly written, [and] contradictory.”
The group’s statement continues:
We express our most resolute rejection of the inclusion of our ministerial activities in the list of possible conducts that go against the law. The legislator forgets that the evangelical Christian churches in Bolivia are religious organizations recognized by the Bolivian state, and, therefore, legal entities.
The Bolivian Constitution specifically protects religious freedom and freedom of worship.
ANDEB has called for peaceful demonstrations by evangelical Christians, as well as prayer meetings to discuss the changes and their potential impact on the Church in Bolivia. The group has also formed a National Emergency Commission to determine additional measures to undertake in the wake of the new penal code amendments.
Churches throughout the country will also be taking part in a special day of prayer and fasting Sunday.