Temples and religious leaders, targets of violence in Argentina

In recent months, Christian churches (Catholic and non-Catholic) continue to be vandalized.

According to the Argentine Council for Religious Freedom, during the month of January, there were attacks by radical feminist protesters against evangelical churches in the province of Misiones.

In November 2020, the walls of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Cathedral located in Moreno, Buenos Aires, appeared with green paint, a color used by feminist groups promoting abortion. In Cordoba, on the front door of a Christian Evangelical Church was written the phrase “your murderous church.” Months ago, in Neuquen, the facade of the Jesús es Rey church building was painted with the phrases “you will burn in our fire”, “we lesbians have abortions”, among others.

The position of the Church rejecting abortion is one of the main points of disagreement with feminist groups in the country. This situation has more than once led to protests and violent demonstrations against Christian leaders and the desecration of temples. This behavior influences the limitation of the free expression of views based on faith not only of religious leaders but also of parishioners, a situation that sometimes leads to the suspension of religious services/activities.

Also last November, a group of radical Mapuche activists entered the Nuestra Señora de Luján parish in El Bolsón, Bariloche, attacking the clergy of the temple and breaking sacred images and Church furniture.

The context of violence also affects religious leaders. In October 2020, the priest Coqui Vaudagna was shot to death during the assault of the San José Parish, located in Bariloche. In the same month, priests from the Villas in the Capital and Buenos Aires denounced the violent robbery of Father Nicolás Angelotti, a priest who fulfills his pastoral work through rehabilitation programs for young people with addictions.

Although the degree of violence and insecurity in Argentina is relatively lower compared to other countries, the confinement measures in the country influenced the curve of insecurity. In those areas with the presence of criminal groups, the dynamics are similar to that of the countries with the highest rates of violence; religious leaders involved in social reintegration programs or dedicated to eradicating crime, become the target of threats or incidents that put their human security at risk.

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The Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America is a program of the Foundation Platform for Social Transformation, a registered charity in Voorburg, The Netherlands under Chamber of Commerce #50264249.

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