Not interested in human rights or suffering in North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Cuba or Syria, the Religious Left is still in a tizzy over the June constitutional ouster of leftist Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. An international church delegation recently visited Washington, D.C. to demand U.S. and global pressure on Honduras to restore Hugo Chavez wannabe Zelaya to the presidency.
Evidently uninterested in Zelaya’s unconstitutional attempts to gain an illegal second term, modeled on Venezuela’s populist dictatorship, the church officials insist that Honduras was “torn apart by a coup’etat.” Of course, Zelaya was removed by Honduras’ Supreme Court and Congress, and legally replaced by the second inline for the presidency, who was from Zelaya’s own party. But evidently any resistance to permanent left-wing rule is illegitimate, these religious voices of conscience seem to believe.
“The suffering and insecurity of the people of Honduras has reached crisis proportions, and long delays in resolving the situation following the coup are unacceptable,” a news release from the World Council of Churches (WCC) solemnly intoned. If there is a “crisis” in Honduras, it is mostly thanks to international sanctions imposed against Honduras, one of the hemisphere’s poorest nations, in solidarity with Zelaya. Pushing for “firmer and more decisive action to restore democracy and ensure full compliance with rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights in Honduras,” the delegation included officials from the U.S. National Council of Churches, the U.S. United Church of Christ, the Swiss-based WCC, an Argentine Methodist bishop and human rights activist, and an apparent Honduran seminary official.
Most of Honduras’ religious groups supported Zelaya’s constitutional ouster, including the Roman Catholic Church and many evangelicals. But the international Religious Left, as with Cuba for 50 years, and as with Sandinista Nicaragua in the 1980’s, claims a higher level of spiritual discernment that overrides local religious opinion when it resists Marxist or far-left rule. Sitting in ecclesial offices in New York on Geneva, left-wing church officials evidently can more impartially judge human rights situations than can the simple locals.
The President of the Honduras Theological Community, as part of the WCC team, deplored “the repression, arrests, forced disappearances and violence directed against the population and especially against women” in Honduras and pleaded that it “must come to an end now.“ Apparently only the triumphant and forced return to power by Zelaya will end all this terror and restore tranquility to Honduras.
Another team member was the WCC’s UN representative, who explained that “churches in Honduras feel called to accompany the people in creating dialogue and promoting a message of healing and reconciliation.” It’s not clear to which Honduran churches he referred. The WCC delegation seemed mostly to represent declining liberal denominations in wealthy, first world countries, not Honduras. “The repression and violations of human rights must stop and new bridges must be built to create a society which is based on justice and respect for all,” he still insisted.
Honduras’ resistance to permanent Chavez-style, leftist rule has so perturbed the WCC that in August it dispatched a special delegation of international church leftists, in tandem with the equally left-leaning Latin American Council of Churches, to that ostensibly troubled nation. The religious international busybodies wanted Honduran churches to “accompany the people in their search for peace with justice and the re-establishment of democracy.” But what if Honduran churches do not want Chavezism in Honduras? The delegation of course hoped Honduran churches would heed wiser outside voices.
This August delegation wanted “Christian voices [to] be heard […] in defense of human rights and in support of humanitarian actions” and alleged that “violence has intensified” since Zelaya’s removal. The church officials, apparently without the help of professional pollsters, mystically discerned that the Honduran people “do not accept the imposition of a de facto government.” So the church delegation urged “the re-establishment of the constitutional order as soon as possible,” which it equated with political restoration for the man legally removed for subverting the constitution.
A WCC news release described Zelaya’s having been exiled in a “coup” by the military and “civilian sectors,” in the “context of a power struggle” over Zelaya’s “plans for constitutional change, which had been rejected by the Supreme Court and the Congress.” That’s a polite way of describing how Zelaya organized a mob to seize ballots for an illegal referendum to keep him in power indefinitely.
This delegation sought “reconciliation” and to “heal wounds,” as it tried to stir up Honduras churches “not to resign themselves to accept the present situation” and to rise up and “to accompany all people who suffer and to practice solidarity with those in greatest need.” It incongruently claimed that “the response of the people in the face of the coup d’état was immediate and massive,” thanks to decades of work by and among popular movements.” In fact, it plainly was distressed by the lack of wider, pro-Zelaya resistance, and was acclaiming only “the people” who were Zelaya’s revolutionary activists.
Twenty-five years ago, church groups like the NCC and WCC similarly expected Nicaragua’s churches to support the Sandinista revolution. The majority of churches that declined, especially the Roman Catholics, were deemed counter revolutionary reactionaries. Undoubtedly, these international church leftists feel similarly contemptuous towards most Honduras Christians who don’t share their revolutionary fervor.
“A new time approaches and it is necessary to be prepared to build that country which for many years the Honduran people have been dreaming of and working toward,” the August WCC delegation stridently intoned. “In the face of the need for change that is expressed by the people, calls will emerge once again for a national dialogue and/or a constituent assembly,” it surmised, essentially endorsing Zelaya’s gambit to overthrow the current constitution to enable his permanent power. “We hope that these efforts will be carried out with the authentic participation of all sectors, and not only those who have traditionally maintained themselves in power.”
Sadly and ironically, while the WCC is pushing for MORE international pressure against struggling Honduras, it is urging removal of international sanctions against communist North Korea. Evidently, in the eccentric WCC mind, Honduras’ constitutional government, which will hold previously scheduled national elections in November, is worse than North Korea, where no free election has ever been held, and whose slave masters aspire for nuclear weapons. Wherever churches in the world are looking for political counsel, they do well to learn the WCC’s stance, and vigorously pursue the alternative.