The head of a prominent evangelical political movement in Colombia is decrying a “conspiracy” against his party after a public backlash arose following seemingly discriminatory comments made by one of the party member’s mothers, national media reported over the weekend.
A video in which Maria Piraquive, an evangelical religious leader and the mother of MIRA party Senator Alexandra Moreno, expresses that disabled individuals should not be allowed to become church pastors had elicited widespread consternation last week in the Colombian media and online.
In light of Piraquive’s comments and the public reaction to them, MIRA party campaign chief Shamir Bedoya took to the Colombian airwaves over the weekend to denounce the “conspiracy” set in motion to damage the party’s image ahead of March’s congressional elections.
“These videos are several years old and coincidentally came to light just now… but in due course everything will become clear and we will find out who is behind this plot,” the politician was quoted as saying in an interview W Radio.
In support of his claims, Bedoya pointed to an ongoing investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office against the MIRA party, on behalf of which two party offices were searched in Bogota last week. Bedoya called the investigation, reportedly focusing on accusations of money laundry and illegal enrichment, “politically influenced.”
“This persecution is not only political but also religious and judicial because unfortunately the Prosecutor General’s Office has made some actions that in our view lack objectivity and professionalism,” he was quoted as saying.
Bedoya, moreover, did not shy away from Piraquive’s controversial comments. Instead, according to RCN Radio, he seconded her argument, explaining that excluding disabled persons from becoming church pastors would not classify as discrimination, because “there are a number of other posts available to disabled persons in the church.”
Senator Alexandra Moreno helped found the evangelical-based MIRA political party in 2000 with pastor and politician, Carlos Baena. Moreno’s mother, Maria Piraquive, is a leader in the Christian “neo-charismatic” Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International, a religious organization strongly linked to the MIRA party.