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.

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

Things That Matter

Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

JiromyXool / Facebook

Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’

Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.

In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.

Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.

Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.

Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Diego Sanchez / Getty Images

One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.

But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.

“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”

Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.

Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.

As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.

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