Evangelicals lose water supply as officials punish them for refusing to pay amount to fund Catholic fiesta in Mexico

Worshippers attend a prayer in an evangelical church in Leon, Mexico.Reuters

An evangelical community in Mexico is now suffering from lack of potable water after local authorities cut off their supply for refusing to pay their contribution for the holding of a Roman Catholic fiesta in honour of a Catholic saint.

The family of Maranatha Church's pastor Octavio Gomez and four other evangelical families in San Jose village in the city of Teopisca in Chiapas state, Mexico refused to pay when the authorities, together with the fiesta organisers, came to visit them early this month demanding a fixed contribution of 200 pesos, equivalent to about $12, the Evangelical Focus reports.

The authorities threatened to cut off their water supply if they persisted in not paying the amount. Moreover, the authorities warned that they would have to pay a fine of 4,000 pesos ($229) to have the water line reconnected once it's been cut.

But no amount of threat could sway the evangelical families. The authorities thus promptly disconnected their water supply.

Around 80 other Christian families in the neighbourhood paid the amount demanded to avoid water service interruption.

The evangelicals in the area have notified state and federal officials of the compulsory contribution demanded by local authorities to help fund a Catholic celebration and their other illegal actions.

However, the Mexican government continues to ignore pleas from the evangelical villagers to enforce laws protecting their freedom of worship, according to Evangelical Focus.

Just last month, during Pope Francis' visit to Mexico, an evangelical church was attacked allegedly by a Catholic mob in Zinacantán.

Members of the Mexican evangelical community have been suffering from unwarranted attacks in recent years mostly because of the evangelicals' refusal to to renounce their faith or to give financial contribution to the Roman Catholic church, the Evangelical Focus report says.

In June 2015, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported more than 70 open cases of religious persecution against minority Christian communities, each involving between 20-100 victims, in Mexico.

Although religious freedom is supposedly guaranteed under the Mexican Constitution, abusive acts against the evangelicals continue to mount, indicating that the law is not the same for all Mexican citizens, evangelical leaders say.

This is the reason why Open Doors, a Christian organisation fighting for the rights of persecuted Christians, has included Mexico in its annual World Watch List.