“Don’t you mess with my children”—Conservative Inter-religious Cooperation in Peru in the XXI Century

  • Paulo Barrera Rivera


In the last decades of the twentieth century Evangelicals in Latin America countries changed their opinion regarding political participation. At the beginning of the 21st century the political practice of evangelicals shows that their objectives are not only occupying spaces of the Legislative power. The new objectives of political participation seek to influence public policies in order to impose a religious morality on issues such as minority rights, homosexuality and abortion. In this article we study this change in the case of Peru taking as reference the action of three religious leaders from Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic churches. We study the organized work of the three religious leaders and their relations with “fujimorism” in the conjuncture of 2016 national elections and in the campaign “do not you mess with my children” of the same year. The actions and discourses of religious groups show strong emotional mobilization, but little capacity to manage a collective identity.


Peru Evangelicals Politic Catholic church Fujimorism Religious emotion 

At the beginning of XXI century, the political practice of catholics and evangelicals is guided by religious principles. This always represents news tensions with the État laïc of liberal democracies (Baubérot and Milot, 2011; Blancarte 2013). As we shall see below, religious groups in Peru act against minority rights, abortion, and homosexuality in the name of religious values and in the name of freedom of expression, overlapping religious beliefs and social and political values. This new political practices started in 1990 election, when Alberto Fujimori was elected with the support of several evangelical churches. In the last years, religious leaders, catholics, and evangelicals have been showing an organized work linked with “fujimorism”, especially in the conjuncture of 2016 national elections and in the campaign "don’t you mess with my children" of the same year, as we analyze along the paper.

The movement “don’t you mess with my children” began in the public sphere in Peru in the year 2016 led by evangelical pastors and priests. The main goal of this movement is to work against the gender equality, called by the movement as “gender ideology”, present in the General Law of Education since 2016.

Evangelicals and the origins of fujimorism

Throughout the twentieth century was characteristic of evangelicals in Latin America to consider the political space alien to religious commitment. The “Protestant ethic”, inherited from missionaries from Europe and the USA, proposed the model of the good citizen, who fulfilled civic duties. The mentality of evangelicals clearly distinguished religious space from social and political space. Political responsibilities were limited to voting. Any other political practice was viewed with suspicion. The first evangelicals who ventured into the political dispute did so as individual and without official support from their churches. An example in Peru was the attorney José Ferreira, who was a senator in several periods. Ferreira was a lay member of the “Evangelical Peruvian Church”. During many decades, Ferreira was the “candidate of the evangelicals”. Thanks to Ferreira’s charisma, the evangelicals had great sympathy for the APRA party (“Acción Popular Revolucionaria Americana”).

This relationship of sympathy between evangelicals and APRA would only change in the 1980s, when evangelicals’ children came into contact with other ideologies and other world views in public universities, first, and in private universities later. This new generation of evangelicals was more sympathetic to the ideals of the left and went on to challenge the old identification of evangelicals with the APRA. With the growth of Pentecostal churches and the entry of their leaders into politics, the new generations received strong conservative influence and took distance from the political left. The national elections of 1990 showed drastic change in the political behavior of evangelicals. The number of evangelical candidates took a huge leap. This year’s electoral process was marked by the discrediting of traditional political parties. The 1979 elections marked the return to democracy. Fernando Belaunde, leader of the right parties, who had been taken out of power by the army in 1968, won these elections. In the 1985 was the first to the old APRA won the elections and gained the State control. The new President was thirty-nine-year-old Alan Garcia, gifted with extraordinary rhetorical ability, resorting to the frequent use of biblical metaphors.

In the 1990 elections, the population’s disappointment about the last two governments, a right-wing and center-left other, redirected their votes to the independent candidate Alberto Fujimori. The conjuncture was appropriate for the success of an “outsider”, somebody new in politic (Elias and Scotson 2000). The winner of the electoral lawsuit was Alberto Fujimori, independent candidate of the new political party named “Cambio 90” (“Change 90”). Fujimori won in the second electoral round where there were unprecedented mobilizations of “symbolic religious capital”, both on the side of evangelicals and on the side of catholics. The other candidate in the second round was the well-known writer Mario Vargas Llosa who had never been a candidate before. The Catholic Church mobilized its forces around the argument that Fujimori represented the evangelicals and that a possible victory of evangelicals endangered the historical “catholicity” of the country. Old rivalries between Catholics and Protestants once again occupied important space in the press and public opinion along the second round. An evangelical pastor was part of Alberto Fujimori’s presidential board. He was the Baptist pastor Carlos Garcia, a leader known and appreciated by evangelicals. In all, 18 Evangelical parliamentarians were elected and they belonged to only two parties. For the “Change 90” were elected 14 deputies and 4 senators, and for the APRA was elected one.

The mobilization of the Catholic Church exacerbated and revived an anti-Catholic evangelical identity. Simultaneously, evangelicals felt for the first time close to political power and with the real possibility of obtaining privileges and advantages that until then throughout republican history had been enjoyed only by the Catholic Church. In the most intense moments of the effervescence of the electoral campaign, Fujimori was called “brother” (like used by Evangelical people) and even “chosen by God”. It is very important to remember this fact because it was repeated, more late, in the two campaigns of the candidate Keiko Fujimori: 2011 and 2016. The difference in these last two opportunities it was done explicitly and from the pulpit of one of the largest Pentecostal churches, as we will have occasion to highlight below.

In the second round, right-wing political forces were articulated around the Catholic Church, which saw in the number of evangelical candidates, serious risk for the maintenance of his traditional privileges. Images typical of Peruvian Catholicism were activated and mobilized by the press and won the streets of the capital, Lima. The political right tried to take advantage of the symbolic strength of Catholicism, but it did not succeed. The people, including evangelicals, had strong reasons not to vote for the right-wing candidate. This important factor was reinterpreted by the evangelicals in a triumphalist way: Fujimori would have been elected thanks the evangelical votes. But Fujimori’s victory must be understood as a result of the 10-year process in which right-wing parties have exhausted their credibility, center parties (APRA) have failed in government, and the left has remained without political space and without credibility.

To understand this last factor, it must be remembered that since the beginning of the post-military dictatorship (1979), Peruvian society experienced unprecedented political-military violence. In 1979, one of the radical left factions, the Maoist-oriented party “Sendero Luminoso”, decided to abandon the democratic game and move on to the clandestine “armed struggle”. In 1984, another leftist party took such decision: the “Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru” (MRTA) of “guevarista orientation”. For more than two decades, these two subversive movements kept the governments of Belaunde (1980–1985), García (1986–1990), and the first years of Alberto Fujimori’s government in check. On the other hand, the political-military action of the police and the army, in the interest of exterminating the “terrorist groups”, established a daily situation of violation of Human Rights. The report of the “Truth Commission” revealed a toll of about 70 thousand dead.

At the beginning of his political management, Fujimori suddenly changed his speech and adopted a neoliberal economic policy. Fujimori implemented an economic plan against which the people had voted in the elections. But Fujimori did not have a majority in Congress, nor did he succeed in alliances with other parties. In April 1992, with full support from the military, Fujimori closed the Congress. The act was known as “self-coup d’état”. It thus began a special period which he named "Government of emergency and national reconstruction". The media reported that the authoritarian measure had broad popular support. There is evidence today that, since the early years of Fujimori Government, the media remained controlled or purchased directly by the National Intelligence System.

From the “self-coup”, political society and civil society began to express their discontent. An important group of evangelicals opposed the anti-democratic system. The effect of the protests was reduced by two factors: the intense control of the media (newspapers, TV, radio, etc.) by the State through the National Intelligence Service. Another was Fujimori’s populist policy of distributing goods among the country’s poorest sectors and regions. Fujimori convened elections for a new Constituent Congress, called the Democratic Constituent Congress (CCD). The elections were held in November 1992 and in them, Fujimori’s candidates obtained more than 50% of the seats (44 of 80 congressmen). With the control of Congress, Fujimori came to govern with more freedom and without opposition (Degregori and Melendes 2007). Only four evangelicals were elected to the CCD, all from the ranks of Fujimori.

The political participation of evangelicals at the beginning of the twenty-first century is changing clearly and the tendency is for greater participation of Pentecostals and charismatics (Barrera 2006). The argument used today to justify political participation is that the church throughout the world is undergoing a new “spiritual awakening,” one of its effects being "a review of its role in the world." The goal is not just to gain space in Congress. A new political agenda based on religious morality guides the articulations of several Pentecostal churches with Fujimori and with the Catholic Church.

To analyze the phenomenon, it is important to retake the place of emotion in collective processes. This question was already present in the origins of sociology in the thought of Durkheim (1989). In the last decades of the twentieth century, several authors began to pay attention to the role of emotions in social movements. Some form of “emotional energy” (Collins 1990) is present in collective action. We think the central question is how “emotional effervescence” could become an organized collective action, in a word how “organic emotions” are built. In the study of social movements as public protest (Jasper 1998), it is important to pay attention to the management of emotions. Jasper shows that success of moral protest depends of complex relation among many factors (Jasper 1997). If a moral shock is necessary to help or to lead a person think about non-negotiable values and how the world diverges around them, more important for the success of the movement is the capacity to manage collective emotions produced (Polleta and Jasper 2001). In our case, it is clear that religious leaders are capable of producing collective effervescence and public acts. Unlike that, they do not have the capacity to manage this emotional energy and give the “don’t you mess with my children” movement a collective identity. In the Sociology of Religion, the place of emotions was studied as an important component of Pentecostal worships (Champion and Hervieu-Léger, 1990, Barrera 2001) because only recently, in the last two decades, Pentecostal people have left their churches to express theirs values in public spaces.

The evangelical field and the fujimorism

The cooperation between evangelicals and catholics that we aim to highlight on this article is clear on the bonds both groups hold to the fujimorism. We consider the “fujimorism” a political movement that was consolidated taking advantage of the political inheritance of Alberto Fujimori. Two evangelical leaders bear an important role in relation with Alberto Fujimori first and with the fujimorism after. They are Pastors Julio Rosas and Rodolfo Gonsález. The first is an evangelical church pastor and the second is a pentecostal church pastor.

Gonsález is the founder and the leader of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Peru today. It is the “World Missionary Movement” (MMM in Spanish), its headquarters is located in Puerto Rico and it operates at an international level. Gonsález started the MMM work in Peru in 1983. Its growth began in the 1990s during Alberto Fujimori’s government. Due to his close relationship with the President then, Pastor Gonzáles was the only one to be granted authorization to run a new TV channel during Fujimori’s tenure, “Bethel TV”. In the year 2015, the MMM website reported having 500,000 followers and 994 churches in Peru. It is important to remember that Alberto Fujimori was a Dictator sued by crimes against human rights in 2009.

Rodolfo Gonsález kept strong relations with Alberto Fujimori and after him with the fujimorism led by Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori. In both campaigns of Keiko Fujimori (2011 and 2016) running for Peru President, Gonsález placed its churches and the Bethel TV work in her benefit. The goal to reach out the evangelical public and direct the vote in favor of her was evident. In the 2011 campaign, Gonsalez blessed and stated that Keiko was “god’s candidate” during a prayer over a live Bethel TV broadcast.

During the 2016 campaign, in which Keiko Fujimori disputed the second round, she counted once again with Gonsález support. In both elections Keiko Fujimori disputed, the second round and in both was defeated in spite of the predictions of Gonsález. Two hypotheses would be plausible. The number of evangelical votes was not decisive or the Pr. Gonsález prayer was not as effective enough as expected. In 2011, Keiko Fujimori lost to a candidate from the left, Ollanta Humala, by wide margin.1 In 2016, she was defeated by a slight difference by an extremely right-wing opponent, Pedro Paulo Kuczynski.2

In November 2016, Pr. Gonsález was one of the leaders in the campaign "do not you mess with my children". For this, Gonsález ostensibly used his net radio and TV programs to serve the objectives of the campaign: opposition to minority rights, condemnation of homosexuality, and abortion. We would like to highlight some phrases from Gonsález’s messages broadcast on TV and radio. He said “If you run into a man with another man, or a woman with another woman, kill them”.

This statement was considered by several social movements as a real encouragement towards violence and a formal indictment was indeed initiated. As he was being prosecuted, he replied in a public letter that for him “the law of God is above human laws”.3 This statement of Gonsález was no exception. His speeches from the pulpit often include violent attacks against homosexuality and abortion. And in the context of the recent "do not you mess with my children" campaign against “gender ideology”. In the month of February of 2017 when the accusations against Gonsález were realized, he decided to leave the country and until the month of June of that year had not returned.4 The case represents a clear tension between the human order regulated by the laws, on the one hand, and religious morality on the other. Deep down is the challenge to basic principles of laïcité that are characteristics of liberal republican models.

The second most important leader of the conservative evangelical field in Peru was Pr Julio Rosas. He had always been a low-profile leader even in his own church, the “Christian and Missionary Alliance” (ACM in Spanish). Much of his pastoral work took place in the countryside at Andean region, and later in a popular region in Lima. He never came to be Pastor in neither of the two biggest temples of his congregation. These two temples are located in middle-class regions of the city and to be Pastor of them is source of great “prestige”5 in the evangelical religious field.

In more than two decades as Pastor Rosas had never participated or showed any interest in politics. His congregation had also never been interested in politics and had throughout its existence, since the 1950s, a conservative profile regarding political participation. In the relationship of evangelicals with the first government of Alberto Fujimori, mentioned above, this church had no prominent participation. Thus, it was surprising that Rosas would run for Congress and even more in the ranks of fujimorism.

He started his political career in the fujimorism political party in the 2011 elections. It was also the first electoral campaign of Keiko Fujimori and his candidacy was aimed at restoring the fujimorism that had been strongly hit by the conviction of its founder (2009) Alberto Fujimori. The former president had fled the country in 2001 when the system of corruption he led was made public. In 2005, he was arrested in Chile, extradited by the Peruvian courts in 2007, and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the following crimes: murder, crimes against humanity, and aggravated kidnapping.6

Just 2 years later, his daughter Keiko Fujimori was trying to reverse the enormous credibility deficit of the political movement founded by his father. This explains the appeal to a religious figure to help reduce this deficit. Rosas was sought to wear the shirt of fujimorism, stained by the crimes committed by the founder. Rosas seems to have had no doubts in accepting such a role by showing little appreciation for religious ethics and placing first his particular interests. How could Rosas explain to the evangelical community why he was the first in the rank for Congress of a party tainted by corruption and crime? Not being a prominent figure in the religious field, Rosas sought prestige in the political field, using as an argument the defense of life and the family. The low profile of Rosas, however, would not suffice for the purposes of fujimorism. But it was also difficult to find other evangelical allies. The closest to Fujimori was Pr Gonsález who, being of Cuban origin, could not be a candidate. Other evangelical allies join fujimorism later, but we did not study them here.

In October of 2015, Rosas resigned to fujimorism because of statements of Keiko Fujimori at Harvard University supposedly in favor of the civil union of people of the same sex and the therapeutic abortion.7 In his letter of resignation, Rosas addresses Keiko Fujimori and stresses that "he remained in the political lines of the party," but by Keiko’s public statements "in favor of civil union I have decided to stand firm in the defense of principles and values Life and family. In consequence I present my irrevocable resignation ".8 In May 2016, however, Keiko Fujimori signed a letter of commitment from his political party against the civil union. And fujimorism’s representation in the Congress has always been against civil union, and they have remained in that position. So, the resignation of Rosas to fujimorism had no justification.9 The political work of Rosas in the Congress had been low level. It is possible to say that in the next campaign, Rosas hardly would be in the fujimorism’s rank.

For the 2016 electoral campaign, Rosas joined another right-wing party led by César Acuña, the “Alliance for Progress” (APP in Spanish). Acuña is a businessman who was being accused of serious corruption and his candidacy for President was suspended by the “National Election Jury”. For Rosas, moral questions about minority rights, homosexuality, and abortion were very important. These issues marked his 2016 election campaign, which we discussed below.

In the last electoral campaign, he used aggressive pictures against abortion and homosexuals.

The sentences used in picture 1 are as follows: “To abort is killing. No matter what”, “With your vote we will say no to abortion, yes to the life”, and “Vote for the life and for the family”. The official campaign slogan of the APP party was “education is first”; however, Rosas had his own slogan that he used in all his campaign media: "vote for life and the family." Rosas was number 8 on the candidate list of that party. He was among the first in the list, but in a smaller party, and was no longer the first on the rank. In the picture is the symbol of the party, the letter “A” inside a red circle and the name of the party. It should be noted that Rosas was elected despite having obtained a low vote, only a little more than 23 mil votes.10 Number of votes is well below expectations, taking into account the size of evangelical churches. According to the 2007 census, there were 729,075 evangelicals in Lima.11
Picture 1

A picture against abortion used in the last electoral campaign

The message is complemented by the image of a pregnant, faceless woman, and a hand wielding a gun and a finger on the trigger that points directly at the woman’s belly. The woman and the gun occupy most of the space. In fact, the message is more in the images than in the text. In fact, the text is a complement to the image message. It should be noted that there is no other political message on the poster. This is an exclusive message against abortion. The center of Rosas’ electoral campaign was against abortion. “Life” and “family” are used as opposite of abortion.

The poster on picture 2 shows another campaign target for Rosas: homosexuality. The two sentences on the poster are as follows: “The children have the right to a male dad and a female mom” and “Children are not the means for homosexual couple’s fulfillment”. According to the message, it is the right of the children to have a father who should be a man and a mother who should be a woman. Also, homosexual couples who adopt children would be using the children for their own fulfillment as couples. The image featured on the poster is the smiling face of Julio Rosas himself. And next to him, a drawing of a heterosexual couple with two children, all hand in hand. This drawing representing the Christian family composed of father, mother, and children was widely used in the campaign as a denial of the heterosexual family.
Picture 2

A picture against homosexuality used in the last electoral campaign

Rosas used several posters with similar content. We will not show all of them here, but, we would like to emphasize that Rosas organizes many conferences against minority rights using the spaces, auditoriums, of the Congress itself and organizes them as a congressman. That is clear, for example in the invitation (Picture 3) to follow.
Picture 3

A picture with the prominent phrase “Save the family”

In the invitation appears the prominent phrase “Save the family”. Also featured are the Congress symbol, the photo of Congressman Rosas, and the symbol of a sponsor called “Center for Family Development.”

The Catholic field: changes in the last decades

In order to analyze the relationship between Catholicism and politics in Latin America in general and particularly in Peru, it is mandatory to remind the emergence of Liberation Theology in the late 1960s and the subsequent multiplication of the “Base Ecclesial Communities” (CEBs). This was a period of effervescence of social movements, of criticism of the “theory of development” that concealed the relations of domination that, especially, the US government maintained with the countries of Latin America. One of the most important thinkers of Liberation Theology was the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez. His work influenced the understanding of Christians’ role in the construction of a more just society and in the concern of the Catholic Church about the poor. The thinking of Liberation Theology was part of broad changes in Latin American Catholicism inspired by the decisions of CELAM II and CELAM III, in Medellín and Puebla, respectively. In these two Councils, there was a clear theological turn towards social problems, especially poverty, that affected the continent.

The construction of socialism was in the horizon of Liberation Theology ideas. This can be seen both in the literature produced by the “organic intellectuals” of the Liberation Theology and in the movements of social transformation, for example, in the movement “Christians for Socialism” and in the “Sandinista Revolution” (Barrera 2016). In summary, an important development of the theology of liberation in the 1960s with significant participation of Christian communities along with social movements in political projects aiming to build socialism can be seen. But, this Christian movement got the twentieth century weakened.

What happened to “Christianity of liberation” in the end of the twentieth century cannot be explained by the failure of historical socialism symbolized in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Important role in the Liberation Theology crisis and in the essential disarticulation of the CEBs was the long-term work against this movement developed by Pope John Paul II. It is important to remember the strong work of John Paul II against the Liberation Theology along 27 long years (1978–2005). Among John Paul II’s strategies were the removal of progressive priests and replacing them with more obedient ones, sanctioning leading CEB priests and religious women, sanctioning Liberation Theology thinkers, and naming conservative priests at key posts. Today, the most important post of Peruvian Catholic Church is occupied by an Opus Dei member, the Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani.

The rise of Juan Luis Cipriani began outside Lima until becoming Cardinal of Peru is an example of the strategy of John Paul II. In 1988, Cipriani was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Ayacucho city located in the south of Peru, at the time very convulsed by the internal war. In 1991, he was appointed Archbishop of the same city. In 1999, John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Lima and in 2001, Cardinal. Cipriani was the first member of Opus Dei to become Cardinal.

There is today in Peru a clear hegemony of conservative groups led by Cardinal J.L Cipriani. As a Cardinal, Cipriani became the most important leader of Opus Dei and important supporter of Fujimori’s government. Only one example to remark that. Along the second period of Alberto Fujimori, the country lived the shock of many women sterilized as part of public policies. It is important to remember that Cipriani remained silent when the Fujimori’s government sterilized many poor indigenous women. Thousands of women from the poorest Andean regions of the country. Fujimori was never punished by these crimes, still.

From the first Fujimori government to the present day, Cipriani has been a major opponent and fierce critic of the human rights movements in Peru. He has used his religious discourse to strip them of legitimacy, to accuse them of leftists, communists, and even “terrorists.”

Going to our question, Cipriani uses his weekly radio program to attack gender equality, homosexuality, and abortion. In 2016, Cipriani was an important actor in the electoral campaign in the middle of the year, and too in the “Don’t you mess with my children” campaign since November of this year. Following are some of Cipriani’s quotes used in the campaign “Don’t you mess with my children”: “God's plan is male and female", “Why put gender and not put the word sex? We were always men and women”. Cipriani was referring to the National Plan of Education. During a Mass, Cipriani made the following prayer: “Lord, do this miracle to us, protect the family, do not let wicked laws go against the family using that evil ideology, the gender ideology, that is poison against the family”.

Interreligious and political cooperation

Protestantism arrived in Peru at the end of nineteenth century, and slowly established itself throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The Catholic Church has always shown strong resistance, opposition, and persecution to the various Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal churches. Although at the beginning of the twentieth century, a law had been passed that allowed for the celebration of other cults, the Catholic Church could still in the second half of that century disturb or even persecute Protestant cults. An important element of the evangelical identity was, consequently, anti-Catholicism. In fact, evangelical churches grew up spreading a message of conversion that meant abandoning Catholic beliefs. To become evangelical was to stop being Catholic and to work against Catholicism. Evangelicals and Catholics were opponents throughout the twentieth century. The weight of Catholicism was very important in the field of culture, so that being a non-Catholic was a social stigma. But, this embarrassment strengthened the anti-Catholic identity of evangelicals. I emphasize this difference to say that there was no condition for any form of collaboration between Catholics and Evangelicals throughout the twentieth century. Evangelicals were only tolerated by the Catholic Church. The State has always recognized greater importance to the Catholic Church and has continued to offer it privileges not offered to other churches. The laïcité of the Peruvian State continually stumbled upon the political force that the Catholic Church still maintained at the end of the twentieth century.

It is only in the twenty-first century that a set of social and cultural changes, new concerns in the public agenda, have created appropriate conditions for a catholic-evangelical collaboration. It is clear that this is not a collaboration in the field of religion itself, nor, even less, of an overcoming of doctrinal differences. The Catholic Church had refused any other church or religion since the beginning of the Colonization and continues in the same perspectives. But, new concerns that are common to both religious traditions show that Catholics and Evangelicals seem to have put their historical conflicts and differences in a second place.

Issues such as minority rights, abortion, and homosexuality have, in recent years, been given priority in the speeches and actions of many of the evangelical churches in Peru. These churches, together with the Catholic Church, are showing great interest to intervene in the public agenda, in the public policies that regulate morality, and in education. In the discourse of these religious militants, these questions are summarized in the expression “gender ideology” that has become the common enemy of Catholics and Evangelicals. Public events, such as the marches on the streets of Lima that are part of the campaign that mobilize thousands of people, show a “moral protest” of conservative religious inspiration. Undoubtedly, there is an important emotional dose motivated by the conviction that it is a struggle against the forces of evil.

In fact, there is in Peru a debate about gender equality that became important at the beginning of twenty-first century. The new National Program of Education was approved recently (2016 Jun) and has gender equality as one of its principles and goals. But, gender equality has been present in the “General Law of Education” since 2003. So, the issue is not new, but the reaction of conservative social groups is. Evangelicals and Catholics have never before been so close around a common cause.

In this article, we examined the role of three religious leaders, but the campaign involved many evangelical churches and thousands of Catholics and Evangelicals. The campaign showed a coordinated work against minority rights, homosexuality, and abortion. These three religious leaders, Gonsález, Rosas, and Cipriani work together in a coordinated way. Gonsález does it from the pulpit and using his TV channel and his network of radios at national level. Rosas has done so since the Congress and with support from his church and Cipriani from his post as Cardinal and using his radio program. Cipriani is known for issuing harsh homophobic statements in the press. In August of 2015, he was accused of plagiarism in articles published in the largest national newspaper “El Comercio”. In a few days, Cipriani got a letter of support from politicians and various authorities. Among the subscribers were all Fujimori congressmen, including Pr Julio Rosas. The letter began with the following text:

“We express our solidarity with Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, who is the object of a disloyal campaign that seeks to silence his brave voice, ignoring his exemplary pastoral work of 27 years as Bishop, marked by the untiring defense of human life, from his Conception, the defense of marriage, family, and popularization and update of Christian doctrine and traditions, as well as the peace of the Peruvian people”.12

There is also another fact that explains the great concerns of the campaign “Don’t you mess with my children”. It is the growth of civil union between people of the same sex and the agreement of that by important percentage of the people. According to a data “Datum”, the agreement grown up between 2013 October and 2014 May from 25 to 27%, and in Lima city, the capital, it was 33%.13 It is also important to remark, although it has not studied here, the campaign is supported by generous resourcing coming from the conservative groups in the USA such as: “pro-life” and “pro family”, “CIPROFAM”, “Christian Coalitions”, and others.14

To conclude

Today, relations between Catholics and Evangelicals are at the same time amusing and amazing. Amusing because pastors and priests who in their churches talk against the others, Catholics or Evangelic, in the politic field, out of their churches, they work together, in harmony, like good brothers and sisters. Amazing because they seem to had forgotten easily that they were always enemies. But, they have succeeded in bringing together two traditions which, since the Reformation, have worked against each other. The main goal of the work in group of these two different religious traditions is to defend a common religious moral. But, the various activities that this movement did against minorities’ rights, abortion, and homosexuality cannot reach a collective identity.

The religious leaders of both traditions, catholics and evangelics, can work together to organize events that occupy the public space, in the streets, and in the media networks. But, they cannot go beyond these moments of collective effervescence. We can state, too, that the historical differences between both traditions are important obstacles to build a collective identity capable of transforming the emotional energy into a political proposal. Unlike other countries in Latin America, such as Brazil for example, the number of religious leaders in political spaces in Peru is little.


  1. 1.
  2. 2.

    “Five days after Peru’s presidential election, the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori has conceded defeat, putting an end to an agonizing wait for results in one of the most closely contested votes in the country’s history”. Available in:

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    In the meaning that Bourdieu give to “distinction” as a result of an “habitus” (Bourdieu 2007)

  6. 6.
  7. 7.
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  9. 9.
  10. 10.
  11. 11.

    INEI Accessed 23/05/2017. It was the last census done in Peru.

  12. 12.
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    Available in: Accessed 30/5/2017

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Methodist UniversitySão PauloBrazil

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