Religious Right begins to assert itself in secular society
The religious right is rising as a political force in Mexico, where the church has been relegated to the sidelines of public life for decades. Conservative Catholics and other Christian groups now attempting to influence the National Congress and mobilize the masses.
The growing number of evangelical and non-Catholic congregations in Mexico are also becoming politically active. They have started their own group, known as the Social Encounter Party.
“This is a clash between the secular state and the sectors that don’t accept the secular state,” said Ilán Semo, historian at the Jesuit-run Ibero-American University in Mexico City.
The “pro-family” marches have the Pope’s approval.
“It is a sign of the pope’s willingness to keep a good relation with the Mexican bishops,” said Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez, a sociologist studying the Catholic Church.
The use of religious symbolism is also increasing: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist who is among the front-runners for the 2018 presidential election, named his new party with the acronym MORENA, which is also a name for Our Lady of Guadalupe – the popular national patroness.
Nevertheless it remains to be seen how much influence the religious right will be able to yield. Support for the marches was mainly from middle-class Mexicans rather than the downtrodden masses.
There is also the long-standing opposition to the Church meddling in politics. A 2015 poll organised by the National Autonomous University of Mexico showed 42 percent of Mexicans were opposed to religious authorities influencing the vote.
“There are many Mexicans who are Catholic,” said Semo, a historian, “but they don’t want priests involved in politics.