Having a secular state is vital for the implementation of our religious liberty and of our human rights, and this fundamental separation of church and state is currently at risk with the current political situation in Mexico. The book AMLO y la religión: El Estado laico bajo amenaza (AMLO and Religion: The Secular State Under Threat), published in Spanish by Grijalbo earlier this month, explains how Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is responsible for this situation.
Written by Bernardo Barranco and Roberto Blancarte, religious experts in Mexico and Latin America, the book analyzes recent political developments in Latin America and Mexico, and raises the concern of the political use that Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the Mexican President, has been giving to religion. Through two essays, the authors explain how AMLO has turned religion into a political asset since his presidential campaign in 2018, how this has bewildered society, and how it could affect the historical separation of church and state, and with it, our rights and liberties. This book is of great interest to the Mexican society, but mostly to us, members of religious minorities.
Roberto Blancarte, sociologist, and historian, is a professor and researcher of El Colegio de México. In his essay “Laicidad en tiempos de populismo” (Secularism in times of populism), the expert explains how AMLO represents the contemporary populist politician who uses religion for their political ends and does not separate his religious beliefs from his political activities: “[…] López Obrador has personal religious convictions that make him have a conservative and moralizing view of the reality of the country, where he assumes himself as a central player in the national salvation, in the fight between good and evil, of the Christian and revolutionary truth against the devil’s lie and evil represented by neoliberalism. In addition, the President is convinced that it is necessary to incorporate the public function into this fight, making it part of his governmental project, combating for the country’s purification, fighting for both the material and soul’s well being[…]”.
Bernardo Barranco, a sociologist specialized in religion and belief, provides a further context in his essay, “AMLO y la irrupción política de las iglesias (AMLO and the political eruption of churches),” of the contemporary Latin American religious landscape, explaining how the changes during the last decades have led to tendencies of Catholicism falling, and at the same time, evangelical churches rising and breaking into the countries’ politics. He later emphasizes that religious organizations are also behind the current social situation: “[…] Churches, especially the Catholic Church, are equally responsible for the degradation of principles and of the prevailing corruption of the country. Therefore, they are not an absolute guarantee of moral renovation or of reinforcing ethics in society. Thus the juridical and political tool is secularism, which guarantees the liberties, the equity and a healthy principle of spheres differentiation. […]”.
This book has helped me better understand the current political situation in Mexico and Latin America, and the alarming use of religion that our President has been addressing, like constantly citing the Bible in his conferences, or when his government printed 10 million copies of the outdated Moral Primer, written by the Catholic thinker Alfonso Reyes in 1944, and when Evangelic churches helped with its distribution.
I strongly recommend for Mexican Pagans to read the book. A few weeks ago, the Mexican senator María Soledad Luévano presented an initiative to eliminate the separation between church and state by modifying the Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship, and although the President expressed his rejection to this idea, his previous actions have said the opposite and have opened the door to these type of initiatives.