SAO PAULO – One of the reasons that Brazil can be said to have turned rather far to the right is religion. In his first speech, President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, praised voters for allowing the country to ‘march now on the right path’ in October 2018. Is evangelism a new force to be reckoned with in Brazil?
Mr. Nogueira Sousa, anthropologist and member of Nova Resistência (or New Resistance) in Brazil, joined Sputnik radio to discuss this issue.
Nogueira says that evangelicals have been important for quite some time, and are in fact the third force in Brazilian politics. “For example, recently, they managed to veto a program billed by the President, they are a stronger influence than political groups to the liberal left regarding abortions, gender and family issues.”
Nogueira points out that evangelicals in Brazil have their own media outlets it seems. “They have TV channels, they have radio stations, they can have a very strong political influence among Brazilian population, mostly in urban areas because in urban areas as there are many evangelical churches. In poor neighborhoods you see an evangelical church on every corner. It’s impressive. About 20% of the Brazilian population now is evangelical. In a recent poll they found out that 70% of evangelicals in the last general election intended to vote for Bolsonaro. …There are poor areas where they don’t have health care, sanitation, they have a lot of violence, so the evangelicals keep these communities alive. They start charity work through the churches, and they receive political power among the poor population. …They carry out education, and the population feels close to them because they are also carrying out spiritual work.”
Nogueira says that the evangelicals probably played an important role in bringing Bolsonaro to power. “Because since the elections the evangelical church has grown a lot in power, there was a hatred against the liberal left, and the traditional left has lost a connection with the working class and has addressed itself more towards policies concerning the LGTB communities and family issues, whereas the evangelicals have appeared to be champions to defend the traditional family…”
Nogueira feels that the spirituality of politics which is happening as the power of the evangelicals grow. This means that politics are becoming more authoritarian. However, Nogueira does not feel that Bolsonaro is going to be a dictator “because his position in the government seems to be a bit weak nowadays, and his government is divided among factions.” Nogueira does say, however, that there is a possibility of religious persecution against religious minorities.
Listen to the audio here.