Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Venezuelan Ripples

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Church Retreats in Venezuela
Amid increasing tensions between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the U.S. government, the LDS Church has withdrawn all its North American missionaries from Venezuela, spokesman Dale Bills said Monday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had trouble getting or renewing visas for its U.S. missionaries, Bill said, so it has reassigned missionaries working in Venezuela to other Spanish-speaking missions in Latin America, the United States and Canada. Venezuelan LDS missionaries will remain in the country.

In just four hours Sunday, the Utah-based church removed an estimated 400 missionaries, some between ages 19 and 24 and others who are retired couples. The church has a temple in Caracas, and 144 congregations with more than 122,000 members on their rolls.

It appears that all non-Venezuelan Mormon missionaries, not just American citizens, have been withdrawn.

This is apparently a consequence of Pat Robertson's ramblings e.gage has previously mentioned. I thought that teapot tempest had blown over, but I was wrong. More from the Tribune:

Within the past two weeks, Chavez expelled the Florida-based New Tribes Mission, accusing the evangelical Christian group of being CIA operatives attempting to infiltrate the country. Though the Evangelical Council of Venezuela defended New Tribes, the government is standing firm.

So it's not just the Mormons, Hawkins said. The Venezuelan parliament is working on legislation banning visas for all foreign missionaries.

That last part is a little surprising. I can understand Chavez being a little twitchy over American missionaries - but all foreign missionaries?

I have a bad feeling about this...


At 10:37 AM, Blogger Tyler Farrer said...

From the LDS Church's viewpoint this is a winning move. By pulling out they take some of the momentum away from the parliment which wants to ban all foreign missionaries. Also, it was done in a way that doesn't assign blame to Chavez. All the Church said was they were having problems getting Visas-and they were. Now the local missionary force can step up to the plate and shine. Unless Chavez wants to expel his own people, which would be suicide, the Church is going to continue to grow.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Reach Upward said...

Senior Nutcase Chavez was elected by the voice of the Venezuelan people in what Jimmy Carter said was a fair election -- never mind the ballot box stuffing, voter intimidation, and other election improprieties witnessed by other observers. Since Venezuelans voted for Chavez, they have to live with him and his policies. But we have to live with him too (just as they have to live with our presidential selections). The Church understands this and is rolling with the punches.


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