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(United Mexican States).

A. Historic Formation. The arrival of Hernando Cortes (Cortez; Hernán Cortés; 1485–1547; b. Medellín, Estremadura, Sp.; conqueror of Mex.) in 1519 ushered into modern hist. that vast section of the W hemisphere mainland known today as Mex., but then called New Sp. by its conquerors. The fall of the Aztec empire 1521 sealed the conquest of the indian civilizations and brought the entire area under Sp. colonial rule for 3 centuries. In 1821 Mex. became indep. of the Sp. empire. Its most southerly state: Chiapas, which broke away from Guatemala 1821 and became one of the original 19 states of Mex. 1824. Present N border est. after secession of Texas 1836 and Mex. War 1846–48.

B. Gen. Description. Area: ca. 761,600 sq. mi. mostly mestizos of mixed Sp. and Indian descent; pure Indian descendants of various peoples (e.g., Aztec, Maya, Olmec, Tlascala, Toltec, Zapotec), some of which had highly developed preconquest cultures, are now concentrated mostly in cen. highlands and S Pacific area; others include Creoles (of Sp. descent), N. Americans, Blacks and Asians.

C. Soc. and Pol. Aspects. Independence intensified inherent soc. problems, rooted in an agricultural economy largely based on communal land tenure, bequeathed by the colonial period, and complicated by vast landless Indian pop. The 1857 Reform and const. separated ch. and state, creating a secular, fed. govt. in which all ch. property was nationalized, religious orders dissolved, educ. secularized, and ch. tithes abolished. Land reform was also attempted. The Revolution that began 1910 led to the 1917 Constitution and full reform. Today Mexico's govt. is a blend of soc. and capitalist pragmatism under a one-party system. Principles of the Reform are applied and objectives of the Revolution are pursued through varying emphases by a strongly centralized govt. No religious organization can own real estate. Educ. is under state control. Businesses in the pub. interest are nationalized, but private investment, including for., is at a high level. See also D 1.

D. Religion.

1. Preconquest Indian cults still exist in remote interior regions, often blending with old Sp. forms of RCm Acc. to tradition, Mary appeared to Indian Juan Diego 1531. A shrine to mark the event was erected ca. 1533; over the yrs. it grew into the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Guadalupe Hidalgo (Gustavo A. Madero), Fed. Dist., cen. Mex. The RC Ch. exercised strong pol. power in the colonial period and controlled much arable land; this led to reaction against ecclesiastical domination and privilege reflected in the constitutions of 1857 and 1917 (see C). Mex. is mainly RC, but for many the connection is only nominal. Evidence of spiritual awakening has followed Vatican II (see Vatican Councils, 2). With relaxation of some laws, the relationship bet. ch. and state has improved. Missions are still hindered by restrictions against for. clergy.

2. Protestantism entered Mex. in force after religious freedom was permitted by the 1857 const.

3. The 1st Ev. service in Mex. was held 1861 in German. Ger. immigration favored establishment of the Ger. Speaking Ev. Luth. Cong. This parish has Heilig Geist Kirche (Holy Spirit Ch.) in Mex. City with sister congs. and many preaching stations throughout the country. It is served by a multiple ministry. This parish also shares in the work of the Soc. Service Center erected with help of funds allocated by Ger., Swiss, and Austrian interests. The Mo. Syn. began Eng. work 1922, abandoned it 1931, began Sp. work 1940. This work, now assoc. with the Caribbean Miss. Dist. of LCMS, led to organization April 1968 of The Luth. Syn. of Mexico (Sinodo Luterano de Mexico). ALC Sp. work in Mex., begun in the middle 1940s, led to founding 1957 of Iglesia Luterana Mexicana, a mem. of LWF Eng.-speaking Good Shepherd Ch. (LCMS), organized Mex. City 1949, and Ascension Ch. (ALC), organized 1958, united 1963 into a cong. recognized by both parent bodies. The Lat. Am. Luth. Miss., founded in the early 1930s by Myrtle Nordin, a mem. of the LFC of Lake Lillian, Minnesota, is supported by contributions of stateside chs. The World* Mission Prayer League began work in Lower Calif. ca. 1944, on the mainland of Mex. ca. 1950. The Scand. Luth. Cong., Mex. City, has operated with Swed. services. Augsburg Luth. Sem., founded in the 1960s as Augsburg Center (Centro Augsburgo) in Mex. City, trains pastors for Luth. groups in Mex. and elsewhere in Lat. Am. and is part of Mex. Theol. Community, formed in the late 1960s by sems. of various Prot. groups. RFG

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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