Lutherans called to be a prophetic voice as country descends further into social and economic crisis
(LWI) - The Christian Lutheran Church of Honduras (ICLH) continues to raise its voice and denounce the corruption, poverty and injustice that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee north towards Mexico and the United States in search of peace and security. Standing alongside other churches and civil society organizations, ICLH members took part in protests at the end of January denouncing the policies of a government that they accuse of dragging the country into an acute social and economic crisis.
On 29 January church members took part in an ecumenical action outside the National Congress in the capital of Tegucigalpa. Among the policies they were protesting against was the government’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), set up by the Organization of American States in 2016 to investigate allegations of corruption by public officials and private citizens.
Pray for justice, accompany the poor
Two days earlier, demonstrators took part in a protest as part of events marking Honduran Women’s Day, denouncing the government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez whose election they have contested since he was declared the winner of the November 2017 ballot. Several people have died in election related protests, while the president has failed to fulfill his promise of bringing down organized crime, drug violence and gang warfare. The country continues to have one of the highest murder rates per capita in the world.
"As a church, we bear witness through our prophetic voice to announce the good news of salvation, but also to denounce all negative actions that put at risk that good news of salvation," says Rev. Rolando Antonio Ortez Martinez, President Pastor of ICLH and one of the main promoters of the protest movement. While church members pray for peace and justice, he says, they also accompany the poor and struggle with them “for just causes, such as freedom, the right to land, water, education, health, and especially to preserve nature and all the environment that surrounds us, but which the transnationals are stealing from us.”
We feel sorrow, pain and sadness to see our women and men leaving the country in search of a better future.
Protesters are calling for action against crimes including femicide and extortion which are on the rise. Unemployment, lack of education and health care are further factors driving many families to join the caravans of people heading north in the hope of being granted asylum in the United States. Demonstrators note that inequality is increasing, with almost half the population living below the poverty line, while the salaries of politicians and military personnel continue to rise.
“We feel sorrow, pain and sadness to see our women and men leaving the country in search of a better future,” Rev. Ortez Martinez explains. In this context, he adds, the church sees its role as “a voice crying in the wilderness”, recalling that Jesus stood "with the marginalized of society” and was put to death for standing "against an oppressive system". The church is called to be a prophetic voice, he concludes, “announcing, but also denouncing” all that stands in the way of justice and dignity for the people of Honduras.