Nicaragua's progressive government announced new measures restricting the entrance of foreign Evangelical missions in a bid to address money laundering and criminal activities carried out under fake religious identities, an pastor and lawmaker told local media Tuesday.
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Pastor Guillermo Osorno, founder of the Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Path and a legislator with the opposition Constitutionalist Liberal Party coalition, told La Prensa that despite belonging to the denomination himself, he approves of the measures as the move will protect “the sovereignty and security of Nicaraguans."
“Unfortunately, there are people who claim they're religious leaders but behave the wrong way. Because of just a few of them, all of us will pay the price," he added.
According to the new measures, foreign pastors entering Nicaraguan territory will have to apply and register first before receiving formal authorization.
The government believes a more stringent application process will help prevent people entering the country as evangelicals in order to carry out illegal activities such as money laundering.
The problem is not exclusive to Nicaragua but is affecting the whole continent, said Pastor Osorno, before confirming the measures will apply to both foreign Evangelical pastors as well as those from the Catholic Church, he added.
“There are pastors who have expressed their disapproval with the measure. However, it only serves the sovereign security of the country."
In Nicaragua, a predominantly Catholic country, Evangelical Protestantism has grown from just four percent of believers to 30 percent in the past three decades, according to a 2013 study by M&R Consultores.