Saturday, June 4, 2011

The churches also vote

In theory, Peru is not declared a secular state, but does mark a line between politics and religion. This is stipulated in Article 50 of the Constitution, which recognizes the Catholic Church as an "important element in the historical, cultural and moral formation of Peru", but "under a regime of independence and autonomy." The Election Act also explicitly prohibits the use or invocation of religious themes, of any creed, in political campaigns.

In practice, Peru is a country in which the candidates do swear by God or with one hand on the Bible, in which priests are accused of inciting social unrest and the bishops have come to make sacred images to the streets election campaign. Right now, it is a cardinal (the Opus Dei, to make matters worse) interviewing all major presidential candidates, has a weekly radio program information and has no major drawbacks, through sermons, public statements and reported-to express their position on policy issues and, if necessary, even censor candidates.

Even before the first ballot, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop of Lima, spoke strongly against former President Alejandro Toledo in his campaign by proposing a liberal agenda that included issues such as decriminalization of abortion, the legalization of gay marriage begin to assess the possibility of legalizing some drugs.

"Those who want to kill children are not ready to govern," he said on that occasion. Then engaged in a policy with Mario Vargas Llosa, whom he accused of attempting to direct the voting population to Ollanta Humala. After the response of the writer, in several temples of Lima was read a message of solidarity and support for the Cardinal.

This week, a few days after the second round, Cipriani returned to speak to criticize has been brought to the fore allegations of forced sterilization of about 300 thousand women during the government of Alberto Fujimori. Although not explicitly stated, it is clear that this is a criticism of Humala, who is the one who raised the issue.

"Surprisingly, it has recently been introduced in the electoral process discussion on sterilizations performed in the nineties, confusing the electorate," said the statement from the archdiocese. After broadcast, the president of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, Bishop Miguel Cabrejos, he said the cardinal's position was not that of the Peruvian Church and stressed the church condemns forced sterilizations.

He also insisted on speaking "on behalf of the Catholic Church in the country" and requested that differentiate "what is the Episcopal Conference with what a person with the respect you deserve that person." "Cipriani is a political actor, is quite right and very willing to get into politics," said Steve Levitsky, Univesidad researcher at Harvard, now at the Catholic University of Peru.

He added: "Cipriani is with Keiko seems clear to me. And while the Church in Peru there are other actors, he certainly is the most powerful." Not only the Catholic Church involved in politics. Also, some representatives of evangelical churches do. This is a sector that comprises approximately 15% of believers in the country, according to some polls.

The most notorious is the evangelical pastor Humberto Lay, running mate to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in the first round, which now supports Keiko Fujimori. Also the head of the parliamentary list Fujimori is a pastor and Thursday, in his final campaign rally, the candidate presented to another group, who accompanied her on stage.

"They do not represent the major Protestant churches and, if they express support for a candidacy, make a personal capacity. The churches, by definition, should not support a policy option," said Victor Arroyo, Secretary of the National Evangelical Council of Peru (Conep ), which, he says, comprises 85% of evangelical cults in the country.

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