Christianity as a bad influence

Some of the interviewees now see Christianity as a bad influence on the Maya spirituality. Byron and Manuel are not Christians themselves, but they accepted that Christian ajq’ijab exist in today’s Guatemala. The word syncretism is mentioned by both of them, but Byron suspects that some of the Christian ajq’ijab are Christian only in name.

I have my God, that’s Ajaw, right? So why should I go to church? No, that’s not logical!


But there are some cases, here in Quetzaltenango, where I sometimes see some persons who are ajq’ijab, but they also go to mass, you know, with fancy suits. And so, everybody around them say “Ah! He’s a good brother!” - but that is just out of shame, right? They’re ashamed to say that they’re ajq’ijab. Because, sometimes, there are people who think that being an ajq’ij is a bad thing, that the ajq’ij is a witch, that ... I don’t know, there’s a lot of questions [being asked], right? But the problem is that they have not gotten to the bottom of what an ajq’ij is. [.]

[Not all ajq’ijab go to mass just out of shame. There are Christian ajq’ijab, and] there’s a reason for that, I think. And that is that now, syncretism exists. So persons who are born into Catholicism say . when they do their ceremonies, they say “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Our Father ...” and so on. [Byron repeats the prayer in K’iche’]. That’s the syncretism, so they’re still lost in this ... in their vision, or in their conscience, or their ignorance. I don’t know.

- Byron

In Manuel’s group, there are several Christian ajq’ijab. Manuel recognises this, and accepts it as long as the Maya is most important to them, at least when they have their meetings and ceremonies. He has a hope that they will be able to get rid of the Christian elements in the “mixture” at some point.

[Manuel speaks about the group.] At one point, we decided a strategy. We can be humanists or Christian humanists - or, to put it this way: our first name is Maya, and our surname can be Catholic, Evangelical [and so on]. So it’s Maya-Catholic, Maya-Evangelical, Maya-this, Maya-that. But, gradually we realise that we are Maya, that’s it, that’s well. [The group is] ecumenical, if you’d like to use a Christian term. [.] So yes, we’re accepting if there are ajq’ijab who have an imposed religion. [...]

[In the ceremonies we do as a group, however] we’re not talking about beings such as San Simon or San Pascual. There, it’s a Maya-only ceremony, with nahuales and all of that, the cosmos and the colours and all of that. There’s no mixing, we’re not talking about that. So it’s pure Maya. Not to belittle other religions, but everything has its place.

I remember, [I was at a meeting where I work, and someone said:] “Well, now let’s hear a Maya prayer by this distinguished lady,” and yes, she was indigenous, but she was also charismatic.[1] Immediately, she started: “Oh! In the name of God, our Father who is in Heaven ...” With all due respect, that’s about Jesus! He was a great man, a brother, a human and, theologically, God, theologically. And so, we respect him, but he was no Maya. But this reflects a reality. Here we are in a process, keep that in mind, it’s a process of liberation, vindication and dignity. The liberation takes place when we remove all that is garbage, which disturbs, which influences, which is a mixture.

- Manuel

  • [1] Here: Evangelical Christian.
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