The Christian religion plays a prominent role in the lives of most Salvadorans. It’s common for people to openly discuss their religious beliefs and to attribute things to the Christian God as a primary source of strength and good fortune. Religious holidays are almost universally celebrated, such as Día de la Cruz (the Day of the Cross).
What are the social justice issues?
Like any biblical text, interpretations of Christianity vary from person-to-person and community-to-community. More importantly, these interpretations can be used to justify virtually anything. For example, some Salvadoran civil war atrocities were attributed to “the playing out of the Bible” and many social groups remain oppressed due to the structures of hierarchy and other narrow interpretations of scripture.
An important note: religion is not necessarily a source of oppression, but rather can be used improperly as a means to justify the ends of oppression. Many people do find the teachings moral, practical, and it serves as a guide towards happiness. For example, “Liberation Theology” by Paolo Freire inspired several communities to reinterpret religious scripture in order to organize themselves and ultimately combat systems of oppression through a victorious civil war.
We also visited a religious leader, Sister Peggy O’Neil, and she supported a more symbolic approach to the Christian religion. For instance, one will not go to a Hell through sin, but one’s life will become a Hell through sin. Perhaps this interpretation provides a foundation for religion that can eliminate some of the more traditional, oppressive interpretations.