Brazil likely to elect right-wing populist as president. Evangelicals celebrate Jair Bolsonaro, while former Catholic turns church into bogeyman.
Swastikas smeared on churches, threats against bishops: a wave of hatred against the church is underway in Brazil, once the world's most Catholic country. Behind it are false reports spread by supporters of right-wing populist Jair Messias Bolsonaro (63). They warn of a communist conspiracy by leftist parties, LGBT groups, feminists and the Catholic Church.
Bolsonaro is far ahead in polls of Fernando Haddad (55) of the leftist PT Workers' Party and is a Catholic. But in 2016, he was baptized by an evangelical pastor in the Jordan River. He scored points with evangelicals, about a third of the population, by condemning gender ies or rights for sexual minorities. According to polls, about 70 percent of evangelicals plan to vote for him, and about one in two among Catholics.
Conspiracy theories surrounding the Vatican
Most recently, in a video, he berated Brazil's bishops' conference and the Cimi Indio Missionary Council as a "rotten part of the church". The church incites class struggle and plans to remove the Indian reservations from Brazilian territory. Beneficiaries would be the Chinese.
The church as part of a communist conspiracy? "This came up after the Vatican-China agreement and mixed with existing conspiracy theories," explains political scientist Oliver Stuenkel of the Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Sao Paulo.
Hate messages and fake news for the church
In September, Rome and Beijing reached an agreement on contentious ies such as the appointment of bishops. "Everything that is not one hundred percent in Bolsonaro's line is now called communist, including the United Nations and international media," Stuenkel said. The latter plans to militarize society and arm citizens for self-defense.
Stuenkel fears a worsening of the human rights situation. There are first signs. Worker Bishop Jose Reginaldo Andrietta had written an open letter criticizing Catholics who voted "for a candidate who sows violence and hatred". As a result, the excommunication of the "communist bishop", i.e. the exclusion from the church community, was demanded in social networks. The church has been the target of numerous hate messages and fake news, such as that it protects drug gangs under the pretext of human rights.
"God hates gender ideology"
"The leftist, communist and socialist bishops turned the Catholic Church into a big political party, the PT," also believes "Apostle" Miguel Angelo of the evangelical Christ Lives Church in Rio. Under its red banner, the PT ruined Brazil during its government (2003-2016) and interfered in sensitive areas such as religion and family, he said. "God hates gender ideology. It was an affront to God and the Bible. After all, the Brazilian people are conservative and Christian."
"The Catholic Church nowadays mixes Marxism and Christianity, claiming in its liberation theology that Jesus sided with the poor," says evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia, currently Bolsonaro's religious guru. He himself preaches a "theology of prosperity", according to which God gives material help to those who donate to the church. Wealth is therefore a sign of God's love. Malafaia himself is said to own the equivalent of about $150 million dollars.
"Brazil above all, God above all"?
"Marxism has changed tactics, now wears a cultural garb and wants to destroy societies by destroying families," says evangelical pastor. The gay movement, interspersed with artists, is trying to force a paradigm shift from the Judeo-Christian model to the atheist-humanist model with its gender ideology. "But now comes the counter-movement."
In September, Bolsonaro was stabbed to death by a mentally deranged man at a campaign appearance. For days he was in mortal danger. That it survived, he and his supporters see as a divine sign. His campaign slogan is "Brazil above all, God above all".