Things That Matter

Mexico’s President AMLO Says He Doesn’t Support A Bill Ending The Separation Of Church & State

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known fondly as AMLO, has opposed a bill that would soften Mexico’s separation of church and state. The draft bill was proposed by a member of his left-wing Morena party. The legal separation of church and state has become all the more essential to maintaining democracy and protecting non-Christians (particularly indigenous people and Muslims) who have become increasing targets of right-wing extremist governments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

According to the Associated Press, the new law would change the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship to remove language that legally separates the state and churches. Experts have already weighed in claiming the law would benefit mostly evangelicals. 

AMLO thinks this issue was resolved 50 years ago. 

“I think it’s a subject that shouldn’t be touched,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.  “It’s been resolved for more than a century and a half. The majority of Mexicans are in agreement with the lay state prevailing, what the constitution establishes.”

The controversial measure submitted by Senator Soledad Luévano Cantú would have allowed religious groups more access to “all manner of media, including TV, radio and newspapers,” and soften church property ownership regulations. It would allow the church and state to partner for social projects, allow chaplains to work on military bases and security forces, along with providing protections for conscientious objectors. 

AMLO says the separation is not an indicator of anti-religiousness but rather the law exists to provide protections for believers and non-believers. 

“‘Render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’” López Obrador said

Many religious leaders in Mexico agree with AMLO. 

The most senior Catholic leader of the country agrees with AMLO. Mexico has had a contentious relationship with the Catholic church, which had powerful overreach, leading to a civil war known as the “Cristiada.” However, in 1992 tensions eased following a meeting with the Vatican that resulted in looser restrictions for religious organizations. 

“I completely agree with the president’s statement this morning, that a secular state is one that guarantees freedoms and therefore religious freedom. The president said it very clearly and we agree,” said Carlos Aguiar Retes, primate archbishop of Mexico.

The president of the National Brotherhood of Evangelical Christian Churches, Arturo Farela, also spoke out in support of AMLO, however, he doesn’t believe the bill would have ended the separation of church and state altogether. 

“When he [López Obrador] asserts that the lay state is immovable and the separation of church and state must remain, we agree with that thought. The lay state must be a guarantor of freedoms including religious beliefs. The bill proposes that . . .” Farela said. “It doesn’t seek to end the separation [of church and state], it only proposes religious freedom,” 

Luévano’s plans would help evangelicals seize more power.

“With respect, tolerance and without taboos, we can work together so that thousands of religious associations in our country can help Mexico become a country where we all live better-off,” Luévano wrote on Twitter. 

The Senator describes her religious as “Guadalupana.” The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of the Roman Catholic church, but also a saint that many Mexicans identify with regardless of their religious affiliations.  

“Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said Luévano’s initiative would appear to benefit mostly evangelicals and other minority religious groups in a country where 81% are Roman Catholic and the church enjoys more influence than probably anywhere else in the hemisphere,” according to the Associated Press. “Chesnut said evangelicals likely see an opportunity to win more space in Mexican society under the administration of a ‘fellow traveler.’”

While evangelicalism has been on the rise in Mexico for a least a decade, U.S. Evangelical Christians began targeting Latin American countries in 2014 — after the United States federal government began to pursue the legalization of same-sex marriage. 

“If I were to speculate, the Religious Right in the U.S. sees the writing on the wall regarding gay marriage, and are going to try to influence global movements in Latin American and Africa – two places that still have very strong anti-gay secular and religious sentiments,” said Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, a Latino church expert told Reuters in 2014. 

Right-wing evangelical leaders have since taken over Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile while infiltrating other countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. While the intentions of the bill may have been innocent (although are religious bills in politics ever innocent?) it could pose a great threat to Mexico’s future. Fortunately, it has no chance of being approved with AMLO’s opposition to it. 

However, based on the rise in right-wing leaders around the globe, one should keep a close eye on what’s happening in Mexico. 

“The lay state in Mexico almost has a kind of sacred status,” Chestnut said.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Pope Francis Comes Out In Support Of Civil Unions For Same-Sex Couples

Culture

Pope Francis Comes Out In Support Of Civil Unions For Same-Sex Couples

Franco Origlia / Getty Images

In a historic move, Pope Francis comes out in favor of same-sex civil unions. The announcement is being heard by Catholics around the world. The Catholic church has been notorious for its anti-LGBTQ+ views and Pope Francis continues to push the Catholic church into the 21st century more and more.

Pope Francis called on the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples in a documentary.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film.

The pope’s declaration is a clear departure from the Vatican’s long held anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs. The Catholic church has long demonized and ostracized LGBTQ+ people because of who they are and Pope Francis has done a lot of work to change that rhetoric from within.

Pope Francis has advocated for rights for several marginalized groups during his time as pope.

Pope Francis became the first pope from Latin America when he was chosen in March 2013. In the past seven years, Pope Francis has called for compassion for migrants fleeing violence in their countries, advanced LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Catholic faith, among other things.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said in the documentary “Francesco,” which debuted at the Rome Film Festival. “I stood up for that.”

The importance of the statement is not what he said but who he is to say it.

Popes before Pope Francis have long upheld the archaic views against the LGBTQ+ community. Pope Francis is the first pope to speak directly to the Catholic people in favor of humanizing and protecting LGBTQ+ people and their dignity. The pope has called on the church and Catholics to welcome LGBTQ+ people and took the stance that homosexuality is not an illness. Pope Francis’ papacy is a welcomed change for LGBTQ+ rights activists.

Catholic politicians are praising the pope for modernizing the church bit by bit.

The declaration is not only historical, it is moving Catholics closer to accepting and embracing LGBTQ+ people in society. The pope holds a lot of power in moving the Catholic church and its followers. With declarations like this, the pope is pushing the church to reckon with its own teachings and take steps into the 21st century.

Some are wondering what this will mean for devout Catholics in government, like potential Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Coney Barrett has been tied to vehemently anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups. While she claims that she doesn’t know that the organizations hold these views, as a devout Catholics the word of the pope holds weight. Many are curious to see if the pope’s words break through and resonate with the judge.

You can watch the trailer for the documentary below.

READ: Pope Francis Condemns Capitalism and Populism in New Official Church Document

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com