RELIGION
09/05/2014 11:12 am ET Updated Sep 05, 2014

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Revered In Controversial Revision Of Lord's Prayer

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A member of Venezuela's United Socialist Party delivered a prayer at the party's Third Congress that has drawn criticism from some in the Christian community.

María Estrella Uribe spoke in front of hundreds of delegates and President Nicolás Maduro, reciting a revised version of the Christian Lord's Prayer that placed former President Hugo Chávez at the center.

Originally spoken in Spanish, the translated prayer read:

“Our Chávez, who art in Heaven, in earth, in the sea and in us the delegates, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy legacy come to us to take to the people … gives us today your light to that it guides us all days and lead us not into the temptation of capitalism, deliver us from evil, oligarchy and the crime of smuggling, for centuries of centuries. Amen.”

She ended her address by saying, "Viva Chávez!" followed by resounding applause.

Many Christian leaders opposed Uribe's use of the prayer in such a manner. Rev. José Piñero, vice president of the Evangelical Council of Venezuela, told CNN he found the prayer to be an offense to religious tradition.

"From a Christian perspective, we consider changing the words of the Lord's Prayer sacrilegious, an act of idolatry and desecration and a trivialization of the sacred."

Current President Nicolás Maduro refers to himself as Chávez' "spiritual son" and said the church was trivializing the late leader's importance among Venezuelans by attacking the prayer.

"They couldn't get rid of Chavez while he was alive so now they want to persecute the people's spiritual love for him," Maduro said.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, has traveled and preached in Venezuela and said he could not condone such a use of the Lord's Prayer.

"As Christians we have a very clear mandate of who we worship and how we worship," Salguero told HuffPost.

But rather than condemn the prayer itself, Salguero said it was a stark reminder of the political divisions that still run deep in a post-Chávez Venezuela.

"People love Jesus, and they want to do well," Salguero said. "They love their families, and they're passionate about their faith in God. My prayer is that the future of Venezuela will be decided by Venezuelans, and it will be decided in a democratic and peaceful way."

Watch the video in Spanish below:

HuffPost

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