Bolsonaro campaign to evangelicals: Brazil’s soul at stake

SALVADOR, Brazil – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has waged an all-out campaign in support of a key missionary vote ahead of the October 2 election.

Evangelist helped bring him to power in 2018and he continues to exploit members of their church for important sets and for a Supreme Court nomination. But in this election cycle, Bolsonaro initially had a harder time winning their support.

The campaign featured the first lady and keyboard crusaders. Influential pastors and politicians are also warning their followers, on Facebook and on the podium, that the frontrunner, former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will close the houses. Catholicism – which he vehemently denied. According to Marie Santini, coordinator of NetLab, a research group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, according to Marie Santini, coordinator of NetLab, a research group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, users are following Follow social media and focus on evangelism. .

“They want to turn this election into a religious war,” Santini said.

According to demographer José Eustáquio Diniz Alves, demographer José Eustáquio Diniz Alves, a former researcher at the National School of Statistical Sciences, makes up almost a third of the Brazilian population. He predicts they will reach 40% by 2032, surpassing even Catholics.

According to Esther Solano, a sociologist at the Federal University of Sao Paulo who conducts polls of Bolsonaro voters and Protestants, many poor Protestants remember the times. 2003-2010 period of Da Silva. Some moderate evangelicals felt Bolsonaro used them politically and was not a true Christian.

Since May, however, multiple polls have found that many Protestants have migrated from da Silva to Bolsonaro, a shift attributed to the incumbent’s campaign portraying Brazil as a nation mentally ill and thought that only he could defend the Christian faith. In general, d a Silva still leads all polls against the incumbent.

Santini said religious and political disinformation websites have created content that candidates, pastors and politicians redistribute through social media. It set up a news cycle for weeks, with TV pundits calling the race a jihad.

Brazil’s presidential office and campaign declined to comment on the strategy.

Michelle Bolsonaro avoided the limelight for most of her husband’s presidency, despite glimpses of her faith. One video shows her repeating “Glory to God”, speaking in tongues, and happily jumping after The Senate approved his evangelical Supreme Court appointee.

Over the past two months, however, she has become the leading missionary voice from Bolsonaro’s camp. She has said that she prayed in front of Bolsonaro’s chair and that, before he was president, the palace was consecrated to the devil.

On a recent March for Jesus in Rio, she blew up an energetic crowd. Performing gospel songs, she makes heart signs and blows kisses.

“We will bring the presence of Jesus to the government and declare that this nation belongs to God,” she declared. “The gates of hell will not win against our family, our Brazilian church or our Brazil.”

That kind of fervent display of faith resonated with many missionaries. Political scientist Bruno Carazza likened Michelle Bolsonaro’s deployment in the compound to a “secret weapon”.

“She communicates very well with the public because she is really evangelical, unlike Bolsonaro, who says he is Catholic and accepts evangelism because of political opportunism,” Carazza said. “She spoke in the literal sense of missionary language.”

The digital campaign also claims to link da Silva to Brazilian Afro religions. A video shared among missionaries this year was edited to make him appear to say that the devil was talking to him and taking control. According to Solano, who interviewed dozens of them, the video influenced the perception of Protestants at the time.

In one campaign appearance on September 7Bolsonaro told the crowd they should compare da Silva’s wife to his own – “a woman of God, family and positive in my life.” A few days earlier, a photo that went viral on pro-Bolsonaro social media showed da Silva’s wife standing in front of figures of Brazilian religious deities Afro.

Brazil has seen efforts to promote interreligious respect. In 2007, da Silva signed into law a national day for against religious intolerancein memory of a nun who was denounced by a prominent Protestant church newspaper as a quack.

Government data shows there have been more reports of religious intolerance this year.

There has been a particular uptick in the digital sector: 2,918 reports of online incidents in the first eight months of 2022, up from 516 in the same month of 2021, according to the nonprofit SaferNet. in Salvador, specializes in receiving complaints through the hotline it runs with the prosecutor general’s office.

According to SaferNet director Juliana Cunha, content is being shared more widely and reaching a wider audience, thus garnering more reports.

“Debates are polarizing, moods are tense,” says Cunha. “There is a trigger. Something strengthens your perception, you get over it.”

Bolsonaro’s support of Protestants rose to 50% from 39% in May, while da Silva fell, according to a poll that Datafolha conducted between 20 and 22 May. 9.

The former president’s camp has realized that he has lost ground; earlier this month, da Silva held a much-heralded meeting with Protestants at a stuffy gym on the outskirts of Rio.

Da Silva told the crowd that his rise from poverty to president is testament to God’s existence, but does not extend beyond his spirituality. He has said he wants to treat all religions with respect, including those of Brazilians in Afro, and rejects religious rivalry or anything resembling jihad. .

“I learned that the state should not have a religion, the state should not have a church. It has to guarantee the functioning and freedom of the many churches that people want to create,” he said.

Conservative evangelicals took to social media to portray his remarks as an attack on Christian churches.

One of Bolsonaro’s most fervent supporters is Silas Malafaia, a famous pastor who presided over the president’s wedding to the first lady, his third wife. Malafaia boasts millions of social media followers and regularly attacks da Silva, better known as Lula, and his team.

At a meeting this month, Malafaia spent 15 minutes discussing the election. He expressed surprise that believers could “tear the Bible in their hearts” by voting for a candidate who, he argued, hated their principles, was indifferent to the defense traditional families and support leftist leaders who persecute churches.

“I will not go easy on them,” Malafaia said in a later interview. “It is a label of lies, of mockery to deceive people. It is ‘Lula, peace and love’ on the outside and the devil on the inside. “

“We are not fools. That time is over,” Malafaia continued. “Social networks end information monopoly.”

The Associated Press’s religious coverage is supported through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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