After a media storm around the role of evangelicals, the Evangelical Federation of Spain recommends Christian leaders “to avoid using their pastoral influence to condition the vote of believers”.
Among the highlights of the Spanish media and political scene over the weekend was an event in Madrid, where under the motto “Europe is Hispanic”, the conservative People's Party (PP) gathered thousands of people, most of them from the large Latino community living in the city.
During the event, pastor Yadira Maestre, leader of the Apostolic Christ Comes church in Madrid, made a brief speech. Maestre, a Colombian who has had close ties with the PP in recent months, shared a prayer “for this great party”.
“Since You brought us to this blessed land, we, Lord, pray for the rulers of Spain, we pray for the rulers of the region and we pray for the mayor”, Maestre said.
“Your word says that when the righteous, people who have love and passion for the people rule, we have peace. We pray, heavenly Father, that love reigns every day in the heart of this party, from its leader Núñez Feijoo to our beloved mayor Martínez Almeida. We believe that you are the almighty God and we pray that your word will continue to spread (...) Easter is coming soon, we pray that we can celebrate a glorious Easter (...) We bless Spain and all its people”, she concluded.
The prayer went viral on social media, with many negative reactions. Several political rivals denounced the evangelical pastor's “religious ultra-fundamentalism” or compared it to the political action of evangelicals in Brazil supporting Bolsonaro or in the United States with Donald Trump.
It was one of the main topics in the press, radio and television, with a multitude of articles mentioning the pastor's participation. She said in social media that she was happy to participate: “I have had the privilege of praying the opening prayer for this event. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15”.
Reacting to the conytroversy, the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE) released a statement on the “participation of evangelical ministers in political rallies”, in the light of the “pre-electoral moment in which we are immersed in Spain”.
Without mentioning the event held in Madrid, the statement first warns that “the individual opinions of evangelicals on any matter, also in politics, expressed in public or in private, are protected within the framework of the individual right to freedom of expression and only represent those who express them”.
FEREDE explains, on the basis of its code of ethics, that the Evangelical Federation “is not linked to any political party or ideology and will take into account the existing political pluralism in society”.
Furthermore, FEREDE officials must not “engage in public political activity or political propaganda”, although “relations with political parties for dialogue, cooperation and action in favour of humanitarian and social issues” are permitted.
“Churches are expected and encouraged to act in accordance with those principles”, underlines the statement.
Finally, FEREDE defended that such political neutrality “is what best represents the historical tradition and daily practice of the vast majority of our evangelical churches in Spain, whose members are plural in their particular political preferences, which is why we recommend that leaders avoid using their pastoral influence to condition the vote of believers”.
You can read the full statement here (in Spanish).