Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Mexico - Open Doors UK & Ireland

Mexico

World Watch ranking: 43
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

How many Christians?
129.6 million (95.7%)

Main threat
  • Organised crime and corruption

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How many Christians are there in Mexico?  

There are 129.6 million Christians in Mexico – they make up the majority of the total population, which is 135.4 million. 

How are Christians persecuted in Mexico? 

In Mexico, criminal groups struggle for territorial control. As Christians speak out against criminal operations and violence, they are targets for violence and threats as gangs try to silence them.

In rural indigenous communities, anyone who turns away from traditional religious beliefs can face rejection and punishment in the form of fines, imprisonment, and forced displacement. Non-discrimination laws mean that any links between Christian faith and politics are placed under very strict legal scrutiny.

In areas controlled by criminal groups or drug cartels, young men are exposed to indoctrination and forced recruitment. Those who do not accept it — for reasons of Christian faith or otherwise — face threats, potential abduction and even death. Families, too, are bribed and intimidated to force their children to obey the gangs. Church leaders are often victims of extortion because they are assumed to have access to church funds. Mexico also has the highest rate of human trafficking in the world, and women are easy targets for illegal armed groups to recruit or abduct.

Meet Pastor Imeldo

“When I said to them, I could not pay, they asked me to sign a document in which I’d renounce my Christian faith. I told them I couldn’t do it because I strongly believed in Jesus Christ.” Pastor Imeldo, who was fined and jailed

What’s life like for Christians in Mexico? 

Pastor Imeldo Maya moved back to San Andres Yaá, in the heart of Oaxaca's mountain range, after having spent several years in the United States. But shortly after his return, the authorities started to oppose their church. “We were celebrating the presentation of a child in our church,” remembers Pastor Imeldo. “Suddenly, I heard the authorities calling my name through the loudspeakers outside, requesting my presence in the town hall. They asked me to explain why there were so many people from outside the community in our church and why I hadn´t asked for their permission.”

Even though he explained the situation, the authorities fined the pastor 10,000 Mexican pesos (around £360). He couldn’t afford the fine, and told them he would not renounce his faith.

His response cost him dearly. He was taken to the jail, where he stayed locked up for two nights. When he was freed, he was presented to the assembly, and it was then that the residents decided to expel him. He was escorted to the edge of town, with no means of transport or money.

Open Doors has been helping Pastor Imeldo in his legal battle since 2018, offering professional advice and financial support. He still lives apart from his community; his long legal battle is not over yet.

Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Mexico? 

Despite falling six places in 2022’s World Watch List, from 37 to 43, life is not getting easier for Mexican Christians. Criminals were able to take advantage of the socio-political instability surrounding the Covid-19 crisis to reinforce and increase their territorial dominance, generating greater vulnerability (and increased violence) for Christians. The pandemic also encouraged the indigenous community authorities to act more harshly against those Christians refusing to adhere to traditional customs. Additionally, it's becoming more difficult for Christians to find a chance to express their viewpoints in the public square.  

How can I help Christians in Mexico? 

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mexico. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost. 

Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Mexico with biblical training, legal support, trauma care and socio-economic aid.

please pray

Father God, protect our brothers and sisters in Mexico who are vulnerable to the practices of criminal gangs. Give indigenous believers courage to maintain their faith, even when their villages turn against them. Draw them together as a strong force of faith in those areas. Help Christians to face violence with courage and to speak out against corruption in the country. May the love of Your people lead persecutors to knowledge of Your love. Amen.  

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