Why attack the believers?

Almost one-third of cases involving violence against the members of a church has taken place in the past six years in Mexico

Why attack the believers?
Mexico's Metropolitan Cathedral - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 26/03/2018 08:44 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 08:44

Leer en español

Thefts, kidnappings, extortion, murders...these are words that have been in use over a decade in many Mexican communities. Few are those who have never experienced insecurity, even indirectly. Violence strikes all social levels and industries. Not even the members of religious communities are safe.

EL UNIVERSAL publishes today that, from 1990 to 2017, 69 members of the Catholic Church in Mexico have been murdered – including a cardinal and 47 priests. However, almost one-third of these cases have happened in the last six years; between 2012 and 2018, 21 priests have been killed, 2, kidnapped, and 2 more are still missing, events to which we can add an attack to a priest in the Metropolitan Cathedral and the detonation of an explosive device at the facilities of the Mexican Episcopate Commission.

Without precise numbers, the Evangelical Church in our country also reports incidents, mainly in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila. In Juárez City, for instance, members of the organized crime demanded a minister pay MXN$10,000 every month to allow him to continue his services. Or in Michoacán, where hooded people broke into an Evangelical Temple to kidnap the minister, whom they held captive for three days. Moreover, there have also been cases of robberies at temples during services. Other crimes have also been reported in Guerrero, Veracruz, Jalisco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.

Since few cases have been solved, there aren't enough elements to determine the causes of violence against the members of religious communities but we can assume there are, at least, two main possible reasons. First, when there is no clear distinction between criminal groups and the authority within a community, priests, ministers and other religious leaders become authority figures who have a considerable influence on the population's opinion. Second, some of the attacks are motivated by religious intolerance.

This isn't about some sectors of the population receiving a privileged attention in regards to security but religious leaders and temples should receive more surveillance. Likewise, murders committed against priests or minister shouldn't also become one more statistic; solving pending cases is relevant to being able to answer the question: why attack the believers?