Mexico

World Watch ranking: 37
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Andres Manuel López Obrador

How many Christians?
126.9 million (95.5%)

Main threat
  • Organised crime and corruption
  • Clan oppression

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How many Christians are there in Mexico?  

A large majority of Mexicans are Christians – 126.9 million from a population of 132.8 million – but it is still a country where following Jesus can come at enormous cost.

How are Christians persecuted in Mexico? 

Although the majority of Mexico's population is Christian, many believers live in danger of persecution, particularly from criminal gangs, drug cartels and indigenous groups.

In many parts of the country, the presence of criminal groups is growing. Christians who bravely speak out against their activities, or who are involved in community work or evangelism (especially with youth, drug addicts and migrants) are deemed a threat—and that makes them a target. The authorities have been unable to stem the growing influence of these criminal groups, making believers even more exposed to attack.

In some indigenous communities, those who decide to abandon ancestral and traditional beliefs to follow Jesus face ostracism, fines, incarceration and forced displacement. Given that indigenous leaders are those who administer justice in such areas, believers have no one to turn to when they wish to investigate wrongdoing and protect their religious freedom.

Persecution has worsened in the past year. Christians are facing growing pressure in their private lives, and personal expressions of faith – such as owning a Bible in some indigenous communities, or sharing faith online – are becoming increasingly risky. There has also been a growing clampdown on believers who express views that are deemed controversial, including intimidating attacks on church properties. It’s led to many believers keeping quiet, for fear of reprisal.

But the highest pressure continues to be in communal life, reflecting how exposed Christians are to attack from both criminal gangs, including drug cartels and indigenous groups. Reported incidents of violence have dropped slightly since last year, but remain at an extreme level.

In positive news, in June 2023, the translation of the Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship into Tzotzil – one of the most widely spoken and important indigenous languages in the state of Chiapas – was completed and published, with support from Open Doors. The milestone will enable believers to have a better understanding of their rights when practising their faith in communities that can be hostile to them. 

Meet Florence

“I didn't know where to start, but the Lord gave me wisdom. I had no strength. But slowly, God lifted me.” Florence, whose husband was killed for his faith

What’s life like for Christians in Mexico? 

Florence and her husband, Pastor Cristerio, were only a few months into their full-time pastoral work when Pastor Cristerio felt called to go and preach in Santa Cruz Loxicha. “We encouraged each other to go,” remembers Florence. “We did not know anyone there. At the first door we knocked, we were welcomed with open arms, and began our mission.”

When they arrived in their new community, its residents warned them of the persecution against Christians by a guerrilla group called the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR in Spanish). The rebel organisation operates primarily in rural areas in the southern states, but also has a presence in some cities, including the capital. Members of the rebel group often put pressure on believers to renounce their faith or suffer violent consequences. Church leaders and missionaries are particularly targeted.

Members of his congregation, who had heard rumours about them, warned the pastors: “Be careful, the guerrilla is speaking badly of you, and they will start threatening you soon.” Pastor Cristerio was attacked by the gang while attending the funeral of a man in the church. The couple decided to leave the area for a while, for their safety.

Nearly a year later, Pastor Cristerio returned to visit Santa Cruz. This time Florence did not travel with him, since she was pregnant. On Sunday afternoon, she received a call from the pastor saying he would return home with two families he had invited for supper. But he never made it. Instead, a group of ten men, heavily armed, stopped the cars the pastor and the families were travelling in. The men shot the pastor in the head; those who accompanied him heard his last words: “Lord Jesus.”

Florence is remaining strong and determined in her faith, despite her grief. She started teaching the children in the church, and later took over leadership of the church. In the following years, she has led expansion of the church. “I didn't know where to start, but the Lord gave me wisdom,” she says. “Seven months after my husband died, my baby was born. The first year I was depressed and hurt. I was about to give up; I had no strength. But slowly, God lifted me.” Open Doors are supporting her and her family with practical help and spiritual encouragement.

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

Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible courage of our family in Mexico who speak out against violence and promote peace. Protect them, we pray, and continue to embolden them in their ministries. May their words and lives touch the hearts of criminal leaders, so they turn from violence and hatred to follow You. Strengthen the faith of those living in indigenous communities; encourage them with your love and show them how You are powerfully at work in their neighbourhoods. May our sisters and brothers in Mexico not be despondent as opposition increases, but may they be empowered to grow in their faith and witness. Bring peace, justice and wise governance to all areas of Mexico. Amen.

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