Panama: seven dead after church targets an indigenous group

Panama: seven dead after church targets an indigenous group January 17, 2020

TEN members of a Christian sect  known as The New Light of God were arrested this week after seven members of the Ngabé Buglé indigenous group – mostly children – were killed in a religious ritual by about ten lay preachers.

They had been tortured, beaten with  Bibles and wooden cudgels, burned and hacked with machetes to make them ‘repent their sins.’

According to the Guardian, 14 members of the Ngabé Buglé – held captive by the preachers – were freed by investigators who came to a remote improvised church at a ranch near the Caribbean coast on Tuesday.

The authorities had been alerted by three villagers who escaped and made their way to a local hospital for treatment earlier.

Image via YouTube

On Thursday, local prosecutor Rafael Baloyes, above, described the chilling scene that investigators found when entered the church.

They [the missionaries] were performing a ritual inside the structure. In that ritual, there were people being held against their will, being mistreated. All of these rites were aimed at killing them, if they did not repent their sins. There was a naked person, a woman inside the building, where investigators found machetes, knives and a ritually sacrificed goat.

The rites had been going on since Saturday, and had already resulted in deaths.

About a mile (2km) away from the church building, authorities found a freshly dug grave with the corpses of six children and one adult. The dead included five children as young as a year old, their pregnant mother and a 17-year-old female neighbor.

Said Baloyes:

They searched this family out to hold a ritual and they massacred them, mistreated them, killed practically the whole family.

He adding that one of the suspects in the killing is the grandfather of the children who were slain.

The sect had reportedly only been operating in the area for about three months.

But things came to a head on Saturday, when one of the church members had a vision. Baloyes said:

One of them said God had given them a message. That message apparently boiled down to making everyone repent or die.

Ngäbe-Buglé children taking part on a traditional dance. Image via Indigenous People | Sustainable Tourism Panama

The Ngabé Buglé are Panama’s largest indigenous group, and suffer from high rates of poverty and illiteracy and their environment is under severe threat from a massive hydroelectric project.

It was not clear what beliefs or affiliations the New Light of God church has. A well-established evangelical church known as Luz del Mundo said in a press statement that it had no ties to the case.

The area is so remote that helicopters had to be used to ferry the injured out to hospitals for treatment. They included at least two pregnant women and some children.

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  • Raging Bee

    It was not clear what beliefs or affiliations the New Light of God church has.

    …or why anyone should care. Seriously, who needs to argue theology with a bunch of homicidal s1ck f00ks like that?

  • laura1919


    Beating children with Bibles? No, I can’t imagine what beliefs or affiliations the church might have. Those Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims carry Bibles with them everywhere. Unless someone wants to indulge in No True Scotsman, these were Christians. Deal with it.

  • Tawreos

    If god were real, why would there ever be an opportunity to argue theology.

  • Stephen Mynett

    This is the advantage of any religion having several thousand branches/cults/factions etc, it is never your brand of god that has caused the damage.

    Something like this: “We don’t bash children with Bibles,” said the Jehovah’s Witness, who is willing to sit back and watch a child bleed to death rather than allow a transfusion.

  • Brian Davis

    Blah blah … free will … blah blah … our ways are not God’s ways … blah blah … mysterious ways … blah blah … who are you to question God? … blah blah.

  • Tawreos

    It is sad that the “blah blahs” are the most interesting parts of that speech when they give it. =)

  • flexilis

    !!!CHRISTIAN PURSAQUUUSHUN!!! Oh, wait. Persecution by Christians. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • Classical Christian respect and tolerance for others. Nothing new.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    not just deluded fools but evil murdering deluded fools of where are the Christians to either defend them. have they all gone into hiding. Ok then you don’t want to defend them then pop out from behind your holy books and condemn them tell the world about them tell them from the pulpit and explain why you keep quiet when the deluded lunatics that are among you go completely postal