Financial Times: Brazil’s Evangelicals Push Politics to the Right

Barb Wire

A recent report from the British newspaper Financial Times (FT) accurately said that Brazil’s evangelicals are pushing politics to the right, but it used an inaccurate example: Marcelo Crivella.

FT said, “An evangelical missionary in Africa for several years, Brazilian senator Marcelo Crivella once described Catholics and other Christian denominations as demonic and condemned homosexuality as a terrible evil. Such opinions — outlined in his book documenting his time in Africa — would raise eyebrows coming from any politician. But Mr Crivella, a gospel singer from Brazil’s evangelical Universal church, is the overwhelming favourite to become the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, one of the Americas’ most racially and socially diverse cities.”

FT then says, “His imminent victory in second-round elections on 30 October reflects the emergence of an evangelical bloc that is driving Brazilian politics to the right, analysts say, and is set to become more powerful and influential.”

Even though Crivella is being helped by the emergence of a powerful Brazilian right energized by evangelicals and their pro-family activism, he and his church have stances hardly resembling conservative or right-wing stances. In the Brazilian Senate floor in 2007, then Senator Crivella boldly said, “The Gospel is the most communist handbook that exists.”

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In communist ideas, he does not represent most Brazilian evangelicals, who are conservative, even though most Catholic bishops would agree with him. And the Brazilian evangelical Right does not represent him.

He is a relative of Bishop Edir Macedo, the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG). Macedo has been notorious for his opposition to pro-life causes, conservatives and the gift of prophecy. In his 2007 official biography, he said, “I support abortion, yes. The Bible also does it… A woman needs to have the right to choose.”

Crivella’s history includes his role as a UCKG bishop.

When the socialist administration of impeached President Dilma Rousseff wanted to pass a anti-“homophobia” bill that would endanger religious freedom in Brazil, Crivella did not know if he should side with his socialist ally Rousseff or conservative evangelicals.

Even so, the Financial Times, pretending impartiality, presented the opposing view of Jean Wyllys, the only openly gay member of the Brazilian Congress who is a lawmaker from the leftist Socialism and Liberty party. In the FT report, Wyllys, who supports homosexual indoctrination of children and their annihilation through legal abortion, is quoted as saying: “It’s not enough for them to evangelise — they also want to influence the law.”

In Wyllys’ view, only his homosexual activism should direct laws. Christians should be banned.

FT acknowledges that the evangelical bloc, represented especially by the Evangelical Parliamentary Caucus, is an influential power in the Brazilian Congress and that “it played a key role in the impeachment of leftist former president Dilma Rousseff.” In an April report titled “President’s Impeachment Shows Growing Evangelical Power in Brazil,” CBN had also acknowledged it.

FT says that in the 513-seat lower house, the House of Representatives, evangelical politicians form the “evangelical bloc,” accounting for a total of 199 seats.

FT said that the impeachment itself was led by one of the Congress’ most prominent evangelical leaders, Eduardo Cunha, then house speaker, previously known for championing bills against the gay agenda and abortion. Yet, FT reminds that he was arrested in relation to a corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state-owned oil company — a scandal that has engulfed the most powerful Brazilian socialists who were involved in larger corruption cases.

“The rise of evangelical politicians reflects in part demographic changes in Brazil. While still home to the world’s largest population of Catholics, the last Brazilian census in 2010 showed that evangelical churchgoers had risen to 22.2 per cent of the population from 15.4 per cent a decade earlier,” said FT.

U.S. magazine Christian Century seems to agree with FT by saying, “Some of the most vocal politicians in favor of the impeachment were evangelical leaders. In 2010, 44 million Brazilians, or about 22 percent of the entire population, identified themselves as evangelical or Protestant, and that growth has led to political influence. Neo-Pentecostals have led the evangelical boom and have uniquely contributed to the development of an evangelical political ideology.”

“Their growing influence is causing some concern,” said the Islamic news site Al Jazeera.

“The growth in evangelical Christianity is taking place without a deep discussion of the values enshrined in our historical character,” said Rogerio Baptistini, of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, a mixed liberal and conservative Calvinist institution that does not accept the neo-Pentecostal growth.

“We are an open and tolerant society, but this sudden growth threatens rationality,” added Baptistini, according to Al Jazeera.

If Marcelo Crivella would depend on communism, which he praised, to be the next mayor of Rio de Janeiro, he would surely lose votes from most evangelicals. But he is facing a more radical socialist opponent. FT says, “In Rio de Janeiro, better known for its city beaches crowded with scantily clad bathers than its deeply Catholic Portuguese past, polls suggest that Mr Crivella is leading with 46 per cent support, compared with 29 per cent for his rival, leftist candidate Marcelo Freixo.”

FT said, “Mr Crivella has sought to distance himself from his more extreme statements. In his book, first published in 1999, Mr Crivella wrote that… public health could be improved by expelling the demons that caused disease. He said African religions were based on ‘evil spirits,’ a controversial claim in Brazil, where half of the population has some African blood.”

Even though half of the Brazilian population has some African blood, FT infers that there is an automatic obligation to portray and label blacks as members of African religions. Most Pentecostal churches in Brazil, including the Assemblies of God, which is the largest Brazilian evangelical denomination, have a membership and leadership of many blacks and people who have African blood.

“Mr Crivella has apologised profusely for what he wrote, saying the book was the work of a young missionary, ‘whose immature seal led him to commit this lamentable error.’ The book was published when he was 42. ‘I love Catholics, spiritualists, evangelicals, everyone. If I have on any occasion caused offence, I ask for pardon. The same in relation to homosexuality,’ he said,” according to the Financial Times.

Yet, Crivella has never apologized for praising communism, even though his candidacy is being propelled by conservative evangelicals who hate communism.

Will the emergence of a powerful evangelical conservatism push Crivella to the right?

With information from the Financial Times, Christian Century and Al Jazeera.

Portuguese version of this article: Financial Times: Evangélicos do Brasil estão empurrando a política para a Direita

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

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