05 January 2006

The surprisingly successful campaign of Chilean Socialist, agnostic presidential candidate, Michelle Bachelet, has been making global news for over a month, at The Washington Post,The Los Angeles Times, and the BBC, all of which make note of her lack of religion. Bachelet, a former victim of the Pinochet regime, is as open about her agnosticism as she about her divorce and out-of-wedlock children, and most U.S. media have noted with surprise that these facts have not hindered her campaign. But if the voters of Chile are more progressive than might be expected from such a conservative country, an update from The Universe Catholic Newsroom illustrates that the presidential race in Chile is as heated as anywhere, and that with the entry of Bachelet’s rich, conservative opponent, Sebastian Pinera Echenique, the holy-warring aspect of the contest takes on a fierce literalness that seems extreme even by U.S. standards, with Echenique denouncing Bachelet as a “child of the devil” who no Christian could morally support. While both candidates make appeals to various religious and issues groups, the Catholic Church has maintained neutrality by receiving both candidates as guests.