Why One Local Couple Was Deported From Morocco

March 2010

Earlier this month, the U.S. ambassador to Morocco expressed dismay that several Americans working with orphans in the North African country of Morocco were expelled after trying to convert people to Christianity. The Americans, and several other foreign nationals accused of evangelizing, were seen as a threat to Islam, which is Morocco's official religion (via The Associated Press). Now, two of the 20 Village of Hope workers who were expelled, Lynn Padilla and her husband, of Englewood, have come forward to say the Moroccan government tore their family apart. The two, who moved to Morocco about four years ago, worry about the future of Samir and Mouhcine, the two Moroccan boys they were raising. "If I think about it too much, I just start crying. I look at their pictures and I just can't believe that I'm not with them," Padilla tells 9News, adding that the orphanage in the village of Ain Leuh took in children who were abandoned, most often because they were born out of wedlock. After the expulsions, Moroccan officials remained tough, saying proselytism---seeking converts from another religion---is not allowed. Communications Minister Khalid Naciri warns that Morocco will be "severe with all those who play with religious values" (via the BBC).