Portrayal of the Catholic persecution of evangelicals in Latin America

Turbulent Waters: Lone Warriors in Colombia
by Jane Livingstone
Moody Publishers, 1958, 177 pages

Periodically, you’ll see an article somewhere about historical anti-Catholicism in America, but the articles usually tell only one side of the story. Bigotry is never a good thing, but there are reasons why American Protestants were fearful of Catholics to the point paranoia. Popes right up into the 20th century had decreed their right to limit the religious freedoms of non-Catholics. In European and Latin American countries, where Catholics were in the majority, the church imposed upon civil governments to restrict and persecute non-Catholics.

Sixty years ago, author Jane Livingstone drew upon actual reports from evangelical missionaries to create this portrayal of the Catholic church’s persecution of believers in Latin America.


Paul Moray, an airline executive, is sent by his company to Santillanos, Columbia to establish a small airport there. He’s accompanied by his wife, Dinah, and their two daughters, Judith and Ariel, who both recently accepted Jesus Christ as the Savior by faith alone at a church service in their hometown. The parents are nominal Protestants. Prior to their trip, a woman visits their home and pleads with them to make inquiries in Santillanos about her missing brother, David Westwood, an evangelical missionary, who she fears is the victim of anti-Protestant intolerance. While on the plane trip, the Morays meet Bernice Taylor who is traveling to Santillanos to find her two nephews and niece, who have been orphaned by anti-Protestant violence.

Upon their arrival at Santillanos, the Morays are invited to stay at the estate of a prominent plantation owner, Rodrigo Alvarado, and his younger brother, Juan, both practicing Catholics. It’s soon discovered that Bernice’s young relatives were placed in a convent orphanage. The Morays assist Bernice in rescuing the three children, also with the help of the Alvarado brothers, who are beginning to question their Catholic faith in the wake of the anti-Protestant violence they are witnessing.

Through the testimony of the two Moray daughters, Juan accepts Christ. He then locates missionary, Westwood, who is a prisoner in the local jail and near death, and frees him. The local Catholic clerics strongly suspect the Morays and Alvarados are involved in the abduction of the children and minister and impose upon the local officials to hound them mercilessly. A romance grows between Rodrigo and Judith as they conspire together to outwit the Catholic authorities. An outbreak of anti-Protestant violence leads to Juan’s death. Rodrigo, increasingly embittered towards his church and impressed by the testimonies of his dead brother and Judith, also accepts Christ, as do Paul Moray and his wife. Judith accepts Rodrigo’s marriage proposal and will live with him in Santillanos. A romance has also bloomed between Ariel and the recovering Westhood, and they will marry once they’re back in the United States.


This novel is a testimony to the violent militancy of pre-Vatican II, Roman Catholicism in Latin America. Despite the official change of Catholicism’s approach to Protestantism, from that of militant confrontation to ecumenical dialogue, vestiges of the old attitudes would continue, especially in Latin America, right up until very recent times. News stories of anti-Protestant persecution in Southern Mexico were being reported in the news in 2015 and 2016. The preface of this book was written by Clyde W. Taylor, Secretary of Public Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). My, how things have changed! The NAE is now a strong supporter of ecumenism with Rome. Order the Kindle ebook from Amazon here.

11 thoughts on “Portrayal of the Catholic persecution of evangelicals in Latin America

    1. Thanks, sister! In the three years I’ve been doing this blog and monitoring news articles on the web, I’ve seen MANY references to historical anti-Catholicism in the U.S., but never any references to historical anti-Protestantism in the Catholic countries of Europe or Latin America except for some mention of the persecution in southern Mexico in 2015 & 2016 as I mentioned in the post. On the one hand, I’m very grateful violent persecution of evangelicals has ceased in Catholic countries. These days Catholic clerics can’t even motivate their members to attend mass on Sundays let alone oppress Protestants. On the other hand, I do admire how doctrinal differences were clearly defined back in the 1950s when this book was written. The differences are less distinct now in the minds of many because of the work of the accommodators and compromisers like Graham, Colson, etc. The Catholic church determined during Vatican II that it was easier to catch Protestant flies with honey than vinegar. I think of the millions of Roman Catholics in this country who are now disaffected regarding their church because of this latest round of scandals. A sizeable portion of them will reject any form Christianity altogether because they’ve seen some high-profile so-called evangelicals completely embracing the Catholic church. No persecution = good. Muddying of Gospel = bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a good point, brother, I hadn’t considered that. If I were coming out of the WoF movement just to hear solid preachers praising it I would have been very upset. Certainly another reason why many should not seek to be leaders, as they’ll be held accountable to all those who are disillusioned with Christianity.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, quite ironic that an NAE official endorsed this book compared to the organization’s total ecumenical compromise today. I appreciated this book for its theme and because it read a lot easier than most of the nonfiction I bury my nose in. The writing style reminded me of the dialogue from 1950s family sitcoms like Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best.

      Liked by 1 person

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