viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2016

The political use of religion in the discourses of the presidents of El Salvador 1989- 2014

During the electoral campaign the different political parties and their candidates try to get the support of different social groups, including the religious people. According  UCA-El Salvador (Univerdad centroamericana) in its report No 122 (IUDOP) "Survey on religion for Salvadorans” only 8% of total Salvadorans do not profess any religion (p. 16). Additionally, the survey shows that currently most of the population considered themselves Christian, the research describes that the Catholic and Evangelical Churches are the most trusted organizations in the country. In contrast, political parties and the National congress are the most questioned institutions and most of the people do not believe in their structure and functioning.

For this reason, it is easy to think that political actors consider the religion as important, that is why elements of religious language seem to appear a lot in political discourses, but it is curious that these elements still appears when the presidents are not candidates anymore and take the power. For example, the president Cristiani (1989- 1994) in his inaugural speech said: "this morning, and as a personal promise, I commit myself to God and before the people to dedicate each day of my mandate to work for democracy". Subsequently Calderon Sol (1994-199) in his first speech to the Nation said: "Our social agenda is oriented, in one way or another, to protect the Salvadoran family, because in it, we learn the most beautiful lessons of life, such as loving God, your country and your neighbor”.
On the other hand, Francisco Flores (1999-2004) also in his inaugural speech said: "We put our faith in God, whom we ask wisdom, to undertake the task entrusted to us”. Then, the president Antonio Saca (2004- 2009) said, "Today I bow my head before Almighty God to ask the gifts of the Wisdom and humility ... the best begins today to be reality”. The first president of a left party, Mauricio Funes, declares: “the only privileged ones of my administration are those that our martyred bishop, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, defined as the poorest, as the most vulnerable, as those who were excluded from economic and social development”.  Then, the following president Salvador Sanchez Ceren states: “As Mauricio (Funes) has already stated, our martyred bishop Monsignor Romero, will guide the steps of this new government as he did in the previous one”.

As it can be seen, in El Salvador the religious language has been use for all presidents since the democracy was established. Then, what is the problem of the use of religious categories in political speeches? The real issue is that the religious behavior is very difficult to know if it is authentic or not, especially in the political scenario, for that reason anybody can take advantage of the collective religious imagery to instrumentalize “the name of God” with the objective of a particular political interests unrelated to democracy and religion as other authors have described like O’Connell, D. (2012).

Starting from this point, there are other questions that can be asked to the presidents to identify if their actions are as “Christians” as their words, for example:
There was transparency in the management of state funds? It has been clear whether the funds of the State projects have reached their target? Have the political parties contributed to investigate of acts corruption? Did the privatization policies of the Public services benefits the most of population?

The answers of this questions use of the elements of the religious language seems to project that the religious and political roles do not have greater distinctions and can be confused both types of Leaderships. The goal rather than communicate a religious message seems to be the persuasion of being a sensitive leader.

For the above, should not fall into the game of editorialists or politicians who disguise with arguments Religious fears, offenses and frustrations, since the true spirit of Christianity should not be part alone Of discourse but also of practice. And as another Christian religious rhetoric put forward in Matthew 7:21 " "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

 - O’Connell, D. (2012). “God Wills It: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion” (Doctoral dissertation, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY).
- IUDOP. (2009). “Encuesta sobre la religión para los y las salvadoreños” Inform #122 Recovered from:

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