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Marcelo Crivella 3

Brazilian Carnival in Rio, a City Ruled by a Neo-Pentecostal Mayor

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While campaigning last year to become mayor, Marcelo Crivella, a retired neo-Pentecostal bishop, insisted his religion would not get in the way of governing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s most famous city.

The former gospel singer and missionary, a high-profile member of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), captured 59 percent of the vote and took office Jan. 1. But less than two months into his four-year term, Crivella’s promises are about to be tested by Carnival, Rio’s annual weeklong party often marked by heavy drinking and drug use, wild sex, crimes and round-the-clock dancing.

Given Rio’s current economic crisis, it makes no difference if Crivella is neo-Pentecostal, Catholic or an atheist. It is irrational and immoral to invest in Carnival when Rio is unable to pay wages to its public servants.

Traditionally, Brazilian evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, do not take part in Carnival. Yet, UCKG has been an exception in many issues, especially abortion, where its founder, Edir Macedo, has made several pro-abortion statements. Crivella has kept a homosexualist department in his administration headed by Nélio Georgini, a Presbyterian homosexual appointed by him.

When he was running last year, Crivella promised he would not try to alter major city events, such as Carnival or the annual gay parade. This is a sharp contrast with Dr. Geremias Fontes, who was the governor of Rio (1967-1971). The Fontes administration defunded Carnival from tax-money, even though it did not bar private groups from funding it.

Fontes was a Presbyterian who later was baptized in the Holy Spirit and eventually became a minister of an independent charismatic fellowship with a special ministry to help youth involved in drug addiction, one of the many problems plaguing Rio.

Young men and women, with Carnival lifestyles (heavy drinking and drug use, wild sex), came to his fellowship and were delivered, healed, saved and transformed by Jesus Christ.

Even though Brazil is the largest Catholic nation in the world, evangelicals, especially Pentecostals and charismatics, have enjoyed an extraordinary growth for their churches and a growing role in politics.

Twenty-two percent of Brazilians currently identify as evangelical Christians. In 1970 only 5 percent had such identification.

The Evangelical Parliamentary Caucus, representing about a fifth of seats in the Brazilian Congress, has emerged as a political conservative force that was influential in socialist President Dilma Rousseff’s removal last year and pushes for pro-life and pro-family laws.

Crivella is totally supportive of Israel. His first trip, after his election, was to Israel, to thank God. Even though he is not as conservative as Geremias Fontes or other charismatics, in comparison to pro-abortion, homosexualist congressman Jean Wyllys, who represents Rio, he is very conservative.

With information from the Associated Press.

Portuguese version of this article: Carnaval no Rio, uma cidade governada por um prefeito neopentecostal

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