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  • AMLO said that the Church-State separation is an matter that was resolved more than 150 years ago

    AMLO said that the Church-State separation is an matter that was resolved more than 150 years ago | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 December 2019
Opinion

The Mexican president said the secular state is not anti-religious, but guarantees the rights of believers and non-believers alike.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that he would not support the proposal to relax the strict legal separation of church and state, leaving aside a bill that would put an end to a long-standing political doctrine in the country.

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The proposal would modify the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship to eliminate the historical language that enshrines the "separation of state and churches.

Among the specific measures, it is said would allow religious groups greater access to all types of media, including television, radio, and newspapers, relax regulations on ecclesiastical ownership of property, establish cooperation between church and state in matters of cultural and social development and allow "conscientious objections" to the law on religious grounds.

It would allow church authorities to do spiritual work in government facilities such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and even military facilities.

Lopez Obrador's party and its allies control both chambers of Mexico's Congress, and without the support of the president, it is hard to imagine the bill being approved.

Lopez Obrador said that the Church-State Separation is something that "should not be touched" and that "was resolved more than a century and a half ago.

"I don't think modifying this principle helps, on the contrary, I think the majority of Mexicans, agree that the secular state, which the constitution establishes, should prevail," he added.

The president said the secular state is not anti-religious but guarantees the rights of believers and non-believers alike.

The Mexican state long had an antagonistic relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. Nineteenth-century reforms promoted by López Obrador's hero, Benito Juarez, reigned in the religious domination of much of the nation's life, and the state actively persecuted the Roman Catholic Church in the early 20th century, provoking a civil war known as the "Cristiada.

Many of the harsher anticlerical laws have softened in modern times, particularly around the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, but the separation of church and state remains firmly rooted as a central political concept.

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