LA PAZ, Bolivia – Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales Ayma, addressed a national television audience on January 21st, following protestations by representatives of the country’s National Association of Evangelicals opposed to a section of a new penal code that would have made it a crime to evangelize.
Section 88.11 of the code stated, “whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom, or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 5 to 12 years of imprisonment.” (Emphasis ours)
Ayma told the television audience and tweeted that “We have decided to repeal the Criminal Code to avoid confusion . . . We are going to listen to the proposals of all the sectors that observe the code. The National Government will never approve norms against the Bolivian people.”
While it is likely that the Bolivian legislators wrote the code to address certain situations that could destabilize the country, Elijah M. Brown, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance recognized that “the ambiguity if these laws could lead to unintended restrictions on religious freedom and to the direct persecution of churches and individuals of faith.
The National Association of Evangelicals in Bolivia have asked fellow Christians to “pray for the leaders . . . of our country ‘that we may live peaceful and quite lives in all godliness and holiness.”
- Christianity Today, Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions
- Baptist World Alliance letter to the Legislative Assembly of Bolivia
- Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons