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Argentina: Church Persecution Federally Prosecuted

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 | Tag Cloud

By Joseph DeCaro

(Worthy News) - Federal prosecutors in Argentina are currently pursuing criminal charges against the perpetrators of religious persecution who had targeted an evangelical church in Rio Tercero, Cordoba.

According to Morning Star News, the charges followed a judicial ruling that declared the violence and vandalism directed against the Pueblo Grande Baptist Church to be a violation not only of Argentina's National Constitution but to international treaties pertaining to freedom of religion.

After Pueblo Grande's congregation opened a shelter for women facing substance abuse and sex trafficking, the church's outreach ministry merited the attention of some local criminals who engaged in drug trafficking and prostitution, according to Pueblo Grande's pastor, the Rev. Marcelo Nieva. The pastor and his flock soon became the recipients of death threats and a misinformation campaign that went on for years until the May 29 federal judicial decision that declared any harassment of Pueblo Grande's congregation violated Argentine law.

As a result of the court’s decision, officers of the Argentine National Gendarmerie -- an elite corps tasked with fighting drug trafficking and terrorism -- guarded the Pueblo Grande church 24/7, dramatically decreasing any further violence and vandalism.

However, Nieva said that until the perpetrators are brought to justice, he and his congregation remain at risk. Nevertheless, the long ordeal that his family and his congregation have endured was worth it.

"This is something historic," Nieva said. "There has never been a case like this before. It gives us an opportunity to hold a national debate on the laws that protect religious equality in Argentina."

Nieva thanked God for the supporters who have rallied to his congregation's defense, but he admits that the continual harassment has taken its toll on the congregation.

"People left, that is to be expected," said Nieva. "The most amazing thing about the majority of those who have stood firm is that they are newborn Christians. They were born again under persecution and they love Jesus. They intercede for the community. We think this is going to have great impact on this city."

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