SCORE64 REGIONLatin America PERSECUTION TYPEOrganized crime and corruption RELIGIONChristianity PERSECUTION LEVELVery High POPULATION133,870,000 CHRISTIAN128,229,000 GOVERNMENTFederal Presidential Republic LEADERPresident Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador PROFILE OF PERSECUTION Violence 12.6/16.7Church Life 10.3/16.7National Life 10.7/16.7Community Life 12.4/16.7Family Life 8.1/16.7Private Life 10.3/16.7 How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research What does persecution look like in Mexico? What is life like for Christians? The increasing presence of criminal groups and their struggle for territorial control create an environment where Christians—and particularly Christian leaders—face the constant risk of being targeted for violence. Christians are perceived as a threat to criminal activities because they oppose corruption and drug use, or because they explicitly reject any demands or requests of criminal organizations. Christians who are outspoken about the hope of Jesus in the face of drug trafficking and violence are often targeted by gangs to remove any obstacle in their quest for control. In indigenous communities, anyone who decides to abandon the community’s religious beliefs or syncretistic practices often faces rejection and punishment in the form of fines, incarceration or forced displacement. Finally, there has been an increase in violent and discriminatory acts against Christians by people who believe Christians are bigoted, xenophobic or opposed to women’s rights. Churches have been attacked and graffitied by protestors, and reports on the ground suggest openness to Christian ethics in the public sphere is decreasing, even though Mexico is supposed to value pluralism. Meet “Pastor Genaro” “There have been missionaries that have gone up to the mountain areas and have come back down regretting it. The closer you get to what people in those areas call ‘hot spots,’ life becomes much more difficult. You risk your life and the lives of your loved ones. While I was there, I heard so many sad stories.” What has changed in Mexico? Mexico shot up the 2021 World Watch List after being outside of the top 50 entirely last year. This is likely due to the rise in illegal activity that directly challenges Christians and Christian teaching. Drug traffickers and gangs retaliate against and target Christian leaders for opposing their criminal activities, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, their control over parts of Mexico has strengthened. Similarly, indigenous communities that oppose Christian converts have strengthened their autonomy during the coronavirus crisis, leading to increased difficulty for these followers of Jesus. And finally, Mexican society seems to be increasing its commitment to secularism instead of pluralism. Often, Christian viewpoints are not welcome in the public sphere. Who is most vulnerable to persecution? Criminal networks have spread throughout Mexico. Although there are still two main cartels in Mexico, there are others—at least 17 criminal groups—that have a significant presence in the country. That doesn’t include the new or fragmented groups, who also persecute Christians because they perceive Christians as threats to their group’s interests. Persecution against Christians inside indigenous communities occurs particularly in the southern part of the country. And the rejection of Christian viewpoints in the public square is increasingly an issue throughout Mexico. What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Mexico? The ministry of Open Doors in Mexico works to bring structural change to the persecution situation in Mexico by helping to provide solutions to the spiritual and material needs of persecuted believers. Open Doors also engages and equips the Mexican church to reach out directly to those suffering persecution. Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Pray for Mexico
Pray for Christian leaders who risk so much to serve their church communities in places where they are the targets of organized criminals. Ask God to spare them from violence and to care for their entire family and church in dealing with the violence and trauma.
Pray for Christians who convert out of their community’s belief system. Pray for a softening of hearts among local leaders, and that Christians would be safe and able to be a light for Christ’s hope in the middle of a dark situation.
Pray for Christians struggling to see how they fit into Mexican society. Ask God to give them compassion and courage, as they risk their lives and livelihood to walk in faith.
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