Evangelicals Can Put a Right-Wing Candidate in Brazil’s Presidency

Major news outlets in the United States are addressing prominently one subject this week about Brazil: The evangelical influence in the incoming presidential election.

In this Sept. 2, 2018 photo, evangelicals raise their hands in prayer as they listen to a song during a service at the Assembly of God Victory in Christ Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Fox News, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, Bloomberg and many other U.S. newspapers have reported about the evangelical political influence in Brazil.

As the Fox News and the Associated Press report noted,

“Brazil, a deeply religious country slightly larger than the continental U.S., is home to the world’s largest number of Catholics — some 123 million, according to the latest census in 2010. But evangelicals are growing and now number 42 million, or about 20 percent of the total population.”

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How in this world could an evangelical minority have more political impact than Catholics in the largest Catholic nation in the world? The first explanation, at least for evangelicals, is outside of this world. It is spiritual.

Yet, there is also another explanation, which the reports do not give. The Catholic Church has been plagued for decades by the Liberation Theology. In fact, the most important Catholic organization in Brazil, the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (NCBB), was founded some 50 years ago by Helder Camara, a notorious adherent of this Marxist theology. He was known as “Red Cardinal.”

Catholics could, by their sheer and overwhelming majority, make a decisive impact in the elections in Brazil, but Marxism has had an upper hand among their leaders and people. Liberation Theology has crippled conservative activism in the Brazilian Catholic Church. For example, the Worker’s Party, the socialist party that ruled Brazil for 13 years ruining the Brazilian economy, was brought up by powerful NCBB leaders.

The Fox News and the Associated report said,

“Evangelicals already have a large influence in national politics. The so-called ‘evangelical bloc’ in Congress is made up of 87 representatives and three senators, about 15 percent of all federal lawmakers. Their votes were instrumental in the 2016 impeachment and ouster of President Dilma Rousseff.”

The evangelical minority has been victorious because they are united in their conservative stances against abortion and the homosexual agenda. The overwhelming Catholic majority has not such conservative union.

An important document from the Workers’ Party drawn up in 2015 outlining strategies to destroy the opposition stated explicitly: “Since the election of [an evangelical politician from evangelical bloc], we are suffering a right-wing offensive.” This far-left-wing document quoted the evangelical politician no less than 9 times, placing him as the greatest danger for all the left in Brazil. No other name appears as prominently as his name. The name of Jair Bolsonaro appears once.

Even though the evangelical politician could be a better candidate, schemes from the Workers’ Party overthrew him.

Yet, although a Catholic, Bolsonaro has received the support from the most prominent evangelical leader in Brazil. The Fox News and the Associated report said,

Silas Malafaia, one of the most influential pastors in Brazil, makes no apologies for trying to influence the votes of parishioners from his more than 50 churches.

During a recent interview with The Associated Press, he said proudly he had helped elect 25 representatives and five senators. His own brother is a state representative for Rio de Janeiro.

“I help candidates get elected by lending them my image and words,” said Malafaia, who from the pulpit and on social media argues that left-leaning candidates promote “moral garbage” with liberal stances on gay marriage and abortion.

Malafaia has been outspoken in his support for Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman and former army captain who has promised to crack down on crime and root out corruption in politics.

“In Brazil, we need a macho like him,” Malafaia said, adding that Bolsonaro will “defend all the values and principals of the Christian family.”

Last weekend, Malafaia visited Bolsonaro in the hospital, where the candidate was recovering after being stabbed during a campaign event Sept. 6.

“God is an expert in turning chaos into a blessing,” Malafaia said in a video that he posted on YouTube from Bolsonaro’s hospital room.

Not always Bolsonaro was so right-wing as he is today.

In 2002, in the first election of socialist Lula, the idol of the Workers’ Party, Bolsonaro called Lula honest and said that he would vote for him.

In 1999, when Bolsonaro was asked what he thought of Hugo Chavez being supported by communists, he said: “He is not anticommunist and I am not too. In fact, there is nothing closer to communism than the military.”

In 2002, Bolsonaro supported Aldo Rebelo, head of the Communist Party of Brazil, as Defense secretary.

The only evangelical candidate in this Brazilian presidential election is Marina Silva. She was a Catholic actively involved in Liberation Theology, but her conversion did not deliver her from this Catholic theology. She has never changed, politically.

Bolsonaro seems to have changed politically, and this is the reason Silas Malafaia is rallying Brazilian evangelicals to support him, not Marina, in the hope that he will “defend all the values and principals of the Christian family.”

Malafaia and other evangelical leaders are concerned about pro-life and pro-family issues. Marina has not such concerns.

All the U.S. headlines about the political impact of evangelicals in Brazil have highlighted Malafaia but this is not the first time that the U.S. spotlights are on him. He was exclusively interviewed by the New York Times in 2011 in a suggestive headline titled “Evangelical Leader Rises in Brazil’s Culture Wars.”

Perhaps the only problem for Bolsonaro is extreme radicalism in some of his non-evangelical followers. His running mate, General Mourão, said there is “a certain radicalism in ideas, even ignorance” among Bolsonaro’s supporters.

He was talking in support of Janaína Paschoal, a prominent member of Bolsonaro’s party. She voiced concern about extremists among Bolsonaro’s followers, saying, “You do not win an election with a one-sided mindset. And you do not govern a nation with a one-sided mindset.” She had already identified such extremists when she said, “Olavetes are as collective imbeciles as Workers’ Party adherents, Marxists… Wake up!”

Olavete is an adherent of Brazilian astrologer Olavo de Carvalho, who has lived as an immigrant in the U.S. for 15 years. He said recently: “Evangelical churches have done more harm to Brazil than the entire left.” In spite of so long time in the U.S., he has never been noticed or quoted by FoxNews or other U.S. major news outlet. Evidently, the public in the largest Protestant nation in the world would be surprised if they learned that he is known in Brazil for his many attacks on evangelicals and for his strident advocacy of the Inquisition’s revisionism, which tortured and murdered Jews and Protestants.

Such advocacy has created a wave of radical pro-Inquisition right-wingers in Brazil. The worry of Mourão and Paschoal seems to be directed to such extremists.

It remains to be seen if the powerful impact of evangelicals in a possible election of Bolsonaro will eventually defuse the influence of extremists.

Portuguese version of this article: Evangélicos poderão colocar um candidato de direita na presidência do Brasil

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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