As long as they are wearing long sleeves and skirts below the knees. Those wearing shorts must wait outside.
Missionary churches in Peru are typically far more conservative than their counterparts in their home countries. We went to a baptism last weekend, in a Catholic church in a poorer part of Cusco. I had never been to this specific church before and didn’t realize the church has mostly missionary clergy and nuns. All gringos in other words. The baptism was a group baptism for about 40 kids (ages between 1 – 10 maybe), with a concurrent/additional Confirmation service for about 60 or 80 kids from the local school. The entire service was 4 hours, uninterrupted. They saved the baptism for the youngest kids (less than 3 years old) until the end.
4 hours uninterrupted in church with our Brianna Nayaraq. Wanna know how that went? Nah, I’ll spare you the details.
A while into the service I stepped outside with the baby. Upon entering the church again, a boy of maybe 7 years old ran into the church alongside me. The nun who was guarding the entrance stopped the boy and pointed to the dress code sign beside the entrance: “You can’t enter wearing shorts.”
A few minutes later, inside the church building, a nun walked by a grandma with her 6 or 8 year old granddaughter. The little girl was wearing a sleeveless shirt. The nun asked the grandma to remove her coat and cover the child with the grandma’s coat.
Just in front of us 2 kids were playing, they couldn’t have been more than 3 to 5 years old. Suddenly one of the boys fell, hurt his head and started to cry. His mom picked him up and he stopped crying in no time. Not soon enough though. One of the patrolling nuns – who looked like she was in charge of things – quickly approached the mom. A Rosary in one hand, with her other hand she pointed the mom with her crying baby towards the exit door.
You thought she was coming to see if the crying boy was ok?
I sat through it all because we were invited by friends. Alright, you got me, I sat through it because there was food at our friends house afterwards. But I can’t get over how many of the missionary churches in Peru are so conservative in their “tribal customs”. Forget the Scriptures, I’m no Bible scholar but none of this is religion, it’s control.
Women who belong to a missionary church are typically required to wear heel-length skirts or dresses. Strange when “our” religion requires women to dress a certain way in the name of God, it’s a beautiful thing but when another religion does the same it’s discrimination?
I respect the so-called Mormon Church in that they work the same way in Peru as they do in their home of Utah. But the church we visited was a Catholic church and they operate in a way that would at best be considered lunatic fringe and at worst illegal in the home countries of those gringo nuns and priests. Make no illusions, many missionary churches here have a large following only because of strategic decisions (invest in nice buildings in poorer areas of town) and because of their centuries of built up wealth. Ironically, much of that wealth was plundered from the so called “New World”.
But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16