A secretly-taken photo of one of the closed churches.
In the last few weeks, field workers in Colombia have been inundated with reports of paramilitary groups closing churches throughout northern Colombia in the states of Antioquia, Bolívar, Chocó and Córdova.
They began compiling a list, which has grown to 60 churches. Many of these churches and the homes of pastors were tagged with the initials of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) paramilitary group, which is Colombia’s largest drug-trafficking organization. Many of the congregations also received official letters from the AGC threatening them and directing them to close. Other pastors were kept from holding church services this past weekend or from visiting the homes of parishioners. According to a field worker in Colombia, “It appears that the graffiti marks on churches or pastoral homes is about the AGC marking their territory. There are several armed groups fighting for control in the region, including FARC dissidents and a Mexican drug cartel.”