The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“The harassment of gender ideology will not stop us”, says the director of the AMEN Baptist school in the city of Neuquén. The Spanish Evangelical Alliance writes a letter to the Argentinian ambassador.
The Christian school AMEN in Neuquén (Argentina) has been in the centre of the controversy as politicians, media, and LGBT activists have attacked the institution in the last weeks.
Dozens of children, parents and members of evangelical churches gathered on August 17 to denounce the opening of an inquiry against the confessional private school, after pro-LGBT groups harassed participants in a conference on gender ideology. Pastor Hugo Márquez of the King Jesus Baptist church had to leave the building escorted by the police.
In the week following the incident, public officers said that an inquiry would be opened against the AMEN school for its teachings on sexuality. The investigation should clarify if the private school failed to apply the state’s Integral Sexual Education programme.
The regional educational authorities were given 90 days to give a verdict. The school could lose public funding and, in the worst case scenario, could have the license to operate cancelled.
More than 300 parents of pupils of the Baptist school signed a letter sent to the regional government expressing their support for the school. A delegation of these parents were received by the regional minister of Education, Cristina Storioni.
ORGANISATIONS STAND UP FOR THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
The Association of Baptists Pastors reacted to the case with an open statement, saying: “The State must respect confessional schools, because every parent who sends their children to such a school knows the values of the institution and has chosen to send them there”.
The Association of Churches and Pastors of Santa Fe Centre and North also raised its voice, condemning what they said were “acts of discrimination and persecution in the city of Neuquén, against pastors Silvia and Hugo Márquez, the Baptist Church King Jesus and the AMEN school”.
Aarón Lara, leader of the Ibero-American Congress for Family and Life (a group that unites Christian leaders from all across Latin America), also called the Argentinian authorities to respect freedom of education and religious freedom: “When did the Argentinian State move from being the protector of liberties to dictate our consciences and those of our children?”
PARENTS AND CHILDREN DEMAND FREEDOM
Among chants of “It is us who will educate our children!”, Pastor Hugo Márquez, who is a board member of the AMEN school, read a manifesto calling for freedom of education.
“The State should not use its structure, human and financial resources to spread and implement a certain ideology. Ideologies belong to the free election of people”.
“The State must be neutral and should never diffuse propaganda indoctrinating children in any ideology, religion nor politics, and that includes gender ideology”, Márquez said.
SPANISH EVANGELICALS WRITE TO ARGENTINIAN EMBASSY
The Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) was one of the foreign organisations that contacted the Argentinian authorities. The evangelical body sent a letter to the Argentinian embassy in Spain.
“The Republic of Argentina was in the past a country of refuge for Spanish teachers who had to go into exile because of their ideological convictions”, the AEE wrote.
For this reason, “it is difficult to understand why reports we have received from direct sources tell us about the harassment of the AMEN School, in Neuquén, for ideological reasons; a process that goes beyond this specific case and collides with the respect for the democratic freedoms”.
The increase of attacks against Christian institutions in Argentina comes in the context of the Senate vote that stopped a new abortion law in August.
The protests of pro-abortion and LGBT groups have polarised society and key issues like education and abortion will probably continue to be at the centre of the debate during the 2019 presidential election campaign.