The legislative assembly in El Salvador voted to declare Oct. 28 as the "National Day of the Evangelical Salvadoran," after 64 members gave their approval in what is considered to be the first commemoration to the Protestant Church in the predominantly Catholic Central American nation.
Initially, the Evangelical Alliance of El Salvador had requested the date of Oct. 31 for the declaration because on the same day in 1516, Martin Luther initiated the Protestant reformation within the Catholic Church. However, a full legislative consensus was reached for the former date instead.
"It is fair and is part of the country, as 38.2 percent of the population are evangelical churches, which have been a part of our history for over 100 years, and who have been present at the signing of the peace treaties, while being advocates for it, and have instilled values to the population in addition to promoting love, therefore, it is appropriate to give them this recognition," said Manuel Flores, a politician with the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party, reports NoticiaCristiana.com.
According to a 2012 survey by the Institute of Public Opinion of the University of Central America, 46 percent of the Salvadoran population identifies itself as Roman Catholic and out of the nearly 38 percent who are evangelical, 59 percent identify themselves as Pentecostals.
For several months, the Evangelical Alliance has given their views and concerns to the Salvadoran government about national issues while aiming to establish solutions that seek to benefit the overall condition of the population, which was part of the reason the government gave the church recognition.
The plea for the national acknowledgement was led by Protestant church leaders who said their recognition was necessary and much deserved because of the work they had done within their communities and the amount of followers they had garnered along the way.
"Finally! It was time that they recognized the role of the fundamental church," wrote a reader on Noticia Cristiana's website. "This is due to the prayers of the people of God."
Other Latin American countries have declared a national day honoring the Protestant Church on Oct. 31, including Chile and Peru.