Walter Alejos, the congressman representing Ayacucho, has spearheaded the evangelical lobby for a constitution that grants all faiths the same rights enjoyed by the Catholic Church. Alejos’ religious affairs adviser, Fernando Bellido, said that Congress may consider Article 71 as soon as mid January.
Alejos, Bellido and other members of the evangelical lobby have spoken one-on-one with roughly half of Peru’s 100 lawmakers. Of those, 30 say they will vote for the evangelical version of Article 71. Twelve say they will support the Catholic version and six remain undecided, Bellido said.
“This doesn’t surprise us,” he said. “Neither the Catholics nor the evangelicals will have enough votes on their own to pass their version of Article 71, so the two groups will have to negotiate a version that’s acceptable to both sides.”
Bellido thinks that whatever outcome such talks might produce, evangelicals will benefit. That is because last year before the article came up for vote, Catholic leaders adopted language in its proposed version of Article 71 stipulating that Congress will collaborate with other confessions. Bellido said this was a key point that evangelicals were seeking in the new constitution.
Eighty-one legislators must approve each of the constitution’s 292 articles. Articles that do not garner enough votes in Congress will be decided in a public referendum. Bellido said that about 10 articles will likely go to referendum. One article that evangelicals are watching with keen interest deals with exceptions to Peru’s constitutional ban on abortion.
On January 9, evangelicals across Peru planned “civic concentrations” — public gatherings — in the nation’s cities to show support for their version of Article 71. The theme of the demonstrations: “Equal before God; equal before the law.”
Bellido believes that the expected turnout of one million believers standing up for evangelical rights should impact Congress.
This article was originally published by Compass Direct News Service.