A Pentecostal preacher who says God speaks to him is seeking to be the next president of Guatemala.
Harold Caballeros, founder and senior pastor of the 12,000-member El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City, recently announced his candidacy. Caballeros says he will stop running the congregation on a day-to-day basis while he seeks the presidency.
The election takes place this November, and a recent poll showed all of the candidates with modest levels of support. Alvaro Colom of the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza leads with 35 percent, reported Caribbean & Central America Report. Gen. Otto Perez Molina of the Partido Patriota came in second at 16 percent.
Caballeros polled about 1 percent, but the publication noted that he had just announced his candidacy at the time the poll was taken. It referred to him as “a dark horse” who has “a nationwide following.” It noted that Caballeros will run under the banner of his own party, Viva, which he formed in 1998, and said his candidacy is “worth keeping an eye on.”
Pentecostals in the United States are excited by Caballeros’ run. The pastor belongs to a worldwide organization called the International Coalition of Apostles, which encourages religiously based political activity.
“Christians in the global South are way ahead of us in this area,” C. Peter Wagner, founder of Global Harvest Ministries and head of the International Coalition, told Charisma magazine. “The values of the kingdom of God should penetrate every level of society, and they understand that….[Caballeros is] doing it right, going right to the top and taking dominion.”
Wagner’s Web site is loaded with standard right-wing political material, including attacks on church-state separation. Last year he called on followers to “Ask the Lord to remove the lie of ‘Separation of Church and State’ from this nation’s governmental philosophy and from Believers’ mindsets! There is no such language in the Constitution.”
But Caballeros could be hampered by the performance of Guatemala’s last two Pentecostal presidents. Efrain Rios Montt, a Pentecostal preacher, seized power in a 1982 coup and subsequently unleashed a terror campaign against his political enemies. At least 2,000 civilians were killed, mostly by the army.
In 1990, Jorge Serrano, also a Pentecostal, was elected president but resigned three years later amid corruption charges.