Salvadoran Presidential Candidate Meets With Evangelical Leaders to Discuss Faith-Based Political Agenda

Antonio Saca, former president of El Salvador and current presidential candidate, met with members of the country's National Union of Evangelical Pastors this week to share his Christian-centered political agenda he hopes to implement if re-elected.

During the meeting, Saca reaffirmed his pro-life commitment and assured the pastors that if elected, he will promote marriage solely between a man and woman. He also said he would issue an executive order to mandate Bible reading in schools.

"This is not a mercantilist project. I'm convinced that with the blessing of God as well as with your blessing, next Sunday I will move into the second term," said Saca, reports El Salvador-based news outlet La Pagina. "We have faith and hope to change this country. While the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) and ARENA (National Republican Alliance) parties argue, gangs continue to grow and the economy falls as we lose more jobs."

Saca, a member of Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional (UNIDAD) or Grand Alliance for National Unity, also told the church leaders that he wants their congregations to partner with the government to fight against gangs that plague the nation by creating social reintegration programs for young adults. Additionally, he called for local churches to implement early education centers in order to instill "firm values" in children.

Furthermore, he emphasized that his agenda will incorporate an expansion of social programs with the purpose to create additional jobs and hopes to prioritize government action to improve the country's most vulnerable sectors.

El Salvador is considered one of the most violent places on earth, with the second-highest murder rate in the world next to Honduras. In 2013, there were 2,492 homicides in El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million. The number was 102 fewer than the 2,594 homicides it recorded in 2012. Earlier this month, at least 14 people, including six evangelicals, were murdered in separate incidents.

As a result, Saca and two other presidential candidates, current Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, are focusing their campaigns on improving the country's increasing gang problem. The candidates are also directing their efforts on stabilizing the government's inability to secure its own citizens as well as government-wide corruption.

El Salvador will hold presidential elections on Sunday, Feb. 2. However, if none of the candidates win 50 percent of the vote, there will be a March 9 runoff.