Church in Mexico Mourns Slain Family
Seventh-day Adventist leaders are still puzzled by the deaths of three of its Huixtan, Chiapas, members, who were gunned down on their way to church by unknown assailants on Sabbath, June 25, 2011. The victims were Sebastian Garcia; his wife, Maria; and their 14-year old son, Emilio. Their five-year old daughter, who suffered a gunshot wound in the attack, survived. At press time the child was still receiving medical treatment in a hospital.
“Until this moment, we are not sure why this happened to this family,” said Pastor Adriel Clemente, president of the church in Altos de Chiapas. Church leaders have been in close contact with the local authorities who have yet to conclude their findings on the attack.
SCENE OF ATTACK: Map shows location of Huixtan, in Chiapas, Mexico. Three members of a Seventh-day Adventist family were slain in a Sabbath-morning attack on June 25, 2011.The Garcia family attended church in the El Calvario district, neighboring an area where strong conflicts over religious intolerance have been reported.
“We are astonished by these acts,” added Clemente. “The El Calvario community has been a calm and friendly one. In the three years that I have been president, I have never received a complaint from pastors or laypersons [about] violence or opposition in that area. Garcia and his family were faithful members known to be peaceful in the community. There is no evidence that leads us to believe otherwise,” explained Clemente.
According to Pastor Cesar Maya, religious liberty director for South Mexican Union the Seventh-day Adventist Church has played an important role in mediating with the authorities regarding abuse or violence cases like this one.
“Together with pastor Clemente we have helped the authorities see more clearly what the church, the families of the victims, and the police are responsible for in resolving these issues,” said Maya. “We have insisted for justice on behalf of the victims, regardless of their faith.”
Church leaders in southern Mexico are working to seek religious-liberty rights in Chiapas and particularly in Altos de Chiapas. More than 32,000 people are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the region.