“Indecent and Indignant” in Bogota: taking a hard look at mission

by Cheon Young Cheol

From 29 November to 3 December, the Discernment and Radical Engagement (DARE) forum delivered difficult questions and discerning answers in Bogota, Colombia.

The regional forum, delivered in Spanish and Portuguese, was titled, “Indecentes e Indignadas: teologías, pedagogías y praxís de la liberación en América Latina” (Indecent and Indignant: Theologies, Pedagogies and Praxes of Liberation in Latin America). The forum drew 36 multi-disciplinary scholars and activists in various fields from 11 Latin American countries who, as a collective, took a hard look at how mission, with imperial roots that led to the marginalisation of many Indigenous peoples, can be decolonised and the oppressed and exploited liberated.

The forum also gave a voice to testimonies that illustrate the burgeoning counter-imperial consciousness and point towards the God of life who calls on us to take on life-flourishing missions.

Ecumenical partners also attended the forum, which featured three keynote addresses. The event included panelists from across Latin America with topics including “Religion and the Left,” “Interculturality and Decoloniality,” “Religion and Gender,” and “Education for Liberation.”

Three keynote highlights

Delivering her keynote on 30 November, Lilia Solano, Colombian deputy minister for Dialogue, Equality & Human Rights, called for a political theology of liberation while acknowledging the loss of Costa Rican theologian Franz Hinkelhammert, and Argentine-Mexican theological Enrique Dussel, both of whom passed away in 2023.

Solano pointed out that Hinkelhammert and Dussel both interpreted Paul the Apostle as the root of biblical critical thinking. Stressing the urgency of liberation for Colombia, Palestine, and other countries, she reflected that liberation theology is the first step towards thinking and acting on the process of liberation in a biblical way.

Professor of ancient history and Biblical studies in the Universidad Catolica Argentina, Pablo Andinach reflected on the importance of the Exodus story as a symbol and historical project for the oppressed. Besides its message of God’s salvation, the story also illustrates the challenges surrounding the colonization of the land as well as the plights of the oppressed.

Francirosy Campos Barbosa, professor of anthropology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, raised the topic of Islamophobia, particularly since the start of the Israel/Hamas conflict on 7 October.

Barbosa presented the results of a report on Islamophobia in Latin America, which shows that the two major perpetrators of Islamophobia in Brazil are the media and evangelical churches. She also highlighted a worrying trend of a nascent yet increasing wave of Islamophobia against Muslim women in Brazil following 7 October.

You may also like