“I Have Observed the Misery of My People”
A Letter from the Churches in El Salvador
Exodus 3:7 (NRSV)
We, pastors and priests of diverse Christian denominations, with a deep concern over the sin that permeates throughout the Salvadorean politics and society in general, wish to express in love the truth to the churches and country, in general, to warn against the temptations, false doctrines, and political idolatries. We express our profound restlessness during a dangerous time where the churches are exposed to the temptations and bribes seeking power to silence their prophetic voice when they should be attentive to Paul’s exhortation: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NRSV)
We express our profound regret for the practice of lying has invaded political life which is contrary to the commitment to truth and is morally central to personal and public life. God designed the key to trust in life in society affirming: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 NRSV) Yet, what we are seeing now is the normalization of lies, without decorum, on the lips of those who should be leaders of the country. The lying of officials is premediated, persistent, and shameless. It reiterates false, distorted, and disproportionate data information that transforms moral expectations and affects the formation of children and youth. We have to remember that lying always leads to slavery while the truth is liberating: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NRSV)
We express our profound regret for the attitudes of authoritarianism and domination which are in conflict with Christian teaching and break the rules of democratic government. Jesus said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:25b-26a NRSV) Government officials are called to service, not tyranny, this is why limits, controls, and balances of democracy must be protected at the same time humility is promoted. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, quite the contrary. Therefore, we reject the tendency to an autocratic political leadership as a theological danger that threatens the common good. We are concerned about the disrespect to the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of the three branches of the State and changing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward the opposition. To neglect ethics and accountability in favor of arrogant personal recognition raises concerns of political idolatry since it places electoral interests above ethical norms that should be non-negotiable for Christians.
We express our profound regret for the sinful attitudes of contempt for human dignity through daily incitements to hate one another. This violent rhetoric has already provoked the first killing of innocent lives. Persons created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26 NRSV), with dignity and an inalienable value and whose blood now cries up to the heavens. Respect for the sanctity of life must start with the courtesy everyone deserves. Accordingly, we reject all types of forms of violence, abuse, insult, aggression, misogyny, and sexual harassment manifested in the political environment. It is deplorable that such practices are not only ignored by the silence of officials but are encouraged by covering up those who exercise them.
We express our profound regret for the never-ending scandalous, corruption cases that come to light too often and the voluntary tolerance of the people of God should be firm in rejecting such practices. Scriptures advise: “…keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21 NRSV) Contrary, the idol of corruption is once again worshiped in our country in exchange for misleading economic salvation offerings to its faithful. This idolatry, making waste of scarce public resources, demands like all idols, victims to be sacrificed. These are the poorest persons whose health and life are broken on the altar of ambition. The aspirations of the people of honesty in leadership are once again mocked as in the past, while the country moves forward to a fiscal crisis with serious consequences.
We exhort pastors to speak and act in faith and courage, not for political reasons, but as disciples of Jesus Christ, the Lord. The need is urgent in this time of moral and political crisis, to regain the power to confess our faith, grieve, repent, and repair.
The Lord, who is just, demands the blood of the poor and calls His people not to be innocent accomplices who tolerate idolatry. Rather, He calls us to reidentify the true interests of the dispossessed without being distracted by the force of publicity.
We encourage each believer to reason from conviction and own discretion, to be in solidarity and compassionate to all, to work to overcome this dark era and to reconnect with brothers and sisters who walk in the construction of the Christian dream of a reconciled society with justice and peace.
Global Ministries will be accompanying Partners in El Salvador in a joint effort to participate in a Virtual Pilgrimage of Electoral Observation on February 28, 2021. Five Global Ministries Spanish-speaking Board members, three staff, and two representatives from Partners in the continent will participate in the process. In preparing for the Observation, they received orientations regarding the actual context in El Salvador and specific training in terms of democracy, human rights, and the electoral process. The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Church of Canada are also part of this endeavor.