God is everywhere – would say those who see the world in a spiritual way. But in Peru those words get a new meaning. Here God, Jesus and Virgin Maria are literally EVERYWHERE.
Are you an owner of the bus company looking for a convincing name? Why not call it Senor the los Milagros – Our Lord of the Miracle? (It makes sense as sometimes it seems to me on peruvian roads only a miracle will get you safe to your destination)
Do you have a petrol station? Call it Jesus de Nazareth! Taxis? – San Antonio.( And make sure to put a picture of San Antonio on the taxi door.)
You take your evangelization mission seriously but you are just a upholsterer? Write on sits in the bus ‘Cree en Senor Jesucristu y seras salvo’ (Believe in Jesus and you will be saved).
Your money exchange business is not going so well? Put a portrait of Jesus together with you $ and € signs. (Since Jesus so was much in favour of this kind of business!)
The examples are endless….. Only a question rises – does the picture of God in the money exchange service make the country more spiritual?
In Peru there is a never ending variety of churches: Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Adventists … In reality the situation of religion is Peru is rather complicated. The country’s reach spiritual heritage, the spirituality of the Andean world, was destroyed by the conquistadors and the missionaries who came with them. They imposed the Catholic religion on a land full of spirits and deities. The Catholic Church for a long time remained accessible only to the white elite and for some is a simbol of the colonisation. Until now a large part of the catholic community are those with money and ´good name´ (meaning usually a foreign name). So the large part of the population is drawn into the protenstant churches (everything that is not catholic), that are less conservative and more open minded.
At the end, the spirituality of Peru is a mixture of ancient andean believes and christian doctrine. Maybe that´s why, when I ask the lady from the poor Mollepampa: “Are you Catholic?”, I get a very strange answer. “I am not Catholic, I am religious”.