The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
It is unusual that the Council of a big Spanish city officially promotes and supports an evangelical event.
There are around 500 banderoles throughout the streets of Barcelona, placed by the City Council. The authorities of the Catalan city have joined the commemoration of th 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation during the months of October and November.
The action is part of the initiatives taken by the City Council to promote and support the activities organised by the evangelical churches and entities of the city.
OFFICIAL FORMAL CERREMONY IN THE BARCELONA CITY HALL
In addition to supporting an exhibition and some public conferences, “next year, a formal official ceremony of commemoration will be held in the Barcelona City Hall”, Pastor Samuel Aran told Spanish online newspaper Protestante Digital.
The office of Religious Affairs of the Barcelona has explained that throughout the months of October and November, they will publish a number of articles “of members and representatives of churches and evangelical entities of the city” on its official website.
These will touch on “the Protestant Reformation from its beginnings, and its influence on culture and art, education, a culture of peace, and the Catalan society”.
Last July, the City Council approved an institutional declaration committing "to participate effectively in the commemorative events to be held in the city for this fifth centenary".
"The Barcelona City Council reiterates, from a secular perspective, its commitment to religious freedom and freedom of conscience as a sine qua non condition to respect the dignity of the people, and for a fecund and creative coexistence within the city; and celebrates the religious and confessional plurality of the city", the statement said.
PERSECUTION OF SPANISH CHRISTIANS
It is unusal that a City Council of a big Spanish town officially promotes and supports an evangelical event.
For many centuries, followers of the Reformation were arrested and condemned. Only in Madrid, according to historians, five public trials of the Inquisition were held in the Main Square of the city after 1621: 162 were accused, of which 29 were sentenced to the bonfire. Around 359 people died there for various reasons, on the gallows or in the club, until 1809.
The Roman Catholic church lost the exclusivity of religious programs on the Spanish television only 30 years ago, when the first evangelical program was broadcast.
“I could see how evangelicals had been persecuted and silenced since the years of the Inquisition until then”, Jose Maria Calviño, former director of the Spanish public television said. He made it possible for Protestants to have their first programme on the public broadcaster.
In the last years, the evangelical community has been publicly recognised for its contribution to the history of Spain in several occasions.
The evangelical approach to the Bible, “has been crucial in the history of thought and of Christianity”, because it promoted ideas of personal “freedom”, former Minister of Culture and Socialist Party leader in Madrid, Ángel Gabilondo, said.
Spanish authorities also value the social work carried out by evangelical churches and organisations.
After the Barcelona attacks, the General Director of Religious Affairs of Catalonia, Enric Vendrell, recalled “many Protestant pastors, putting themselves at the disposal of the government, showing signs of being determined to work in favor of coexistence”.
“I know the evangelical world well and I am pleased to know that the churches are committed to the work”, he added.