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Evangelicals represent almost a third of the Brazilian population and continue to grow in number of believers and political, economic and media power.

The powerful Brazilian evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia says he does not know why President Jair Bolsonaro chose him to accompany him to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London.

But many attribute that gesture, reflected in the photo in which he appears paying his respects before the coffin of the late monarch together with the president and the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro (also an evangelical), a markedly electoral intention just over a week after the first round, on October 2.

It is not surprising that the presence in the Brazilian entourage of this leader of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ who does not have any official position sparked suspicion. It says a lot about what is at stake.

A faithful ally and advisor to Bolsonaro, Malafaia is the main bait for the evangelical electorate, mostly Bolsonaro, and largely responsible for his victory in 2018.

This confession represents almost a third of the Brazilian population and continues to grow in number of believers and political, economic and media power. Especially in recent years, with this conservative president who, with his motto ‘Brazil above all, God above all’, It seems designed for them.

“We are against abortion, gender ideology, the legalization of drugs and we are defenders of the Brazilian family,” Bolsonaro often says.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, half of the Brazilian population –some 213 million inhabitants– declares itself Catholic and 30% evangelical. It is expected that by the end of this decade both groups will present the same percentages.

In Congress, the so-called ‘evangelical caucus’ is increasingly present, and currently it already has 112 of the 513 deputies. This year, the number of evangelical candidates has grown by 11%, to 659 candidates, compared to the 2018 elections when there were 595.

A pivotal vote

So, once again, the evangelical vote will be crucial in the tough fight between Bolsonaro (67 years old) and former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (76).

The patriarch of the Brazilian left is the favorite in the polls, both in the first and second rounds. In the latest poll released on Thursday by the respected pollster Datafolha, Lula has a 47% vote intention, compared to 33% for Bolsonaro. If the valid votes are taken into account (excluding blank, null and undecided votes), it would reach the 50% necessary to win in the first round. In the second round, on October 30, the leftist would win with 54%.

But among the evangelical voter, the trend is reversed: 53% say they will vote for Bolsonaro and 34% for Lula. Four years ago, however, 70% of evangelicals declared themselves Bolsonarists.

Malafaia married Bolsonaro and Michelle in 2013, a fervent evangelical who this year is actively participating in her husband’s campaign, in an attempt to reduce rejection of Bolsonaro among the female public and to bring her husband closer to evangelicals.

“He is chosen by God” to save Brazil and “help women,” Michelle recently said.

During this mandate, Bolsonaro fulfilled one of his campaign promises and named someone “terribly evangelical” in the highest court: the lawyer and pastor of the Presbyterian Church, André Mendonça.

The far-right – who in 2016, despite being a Catholic, traveled to Israel to be baptized as an evangelical in the waters of the Jordan – has counted these years in his Executive with more than a dozen evangelicals in positions of high responsibility.

religious fake news

Aware that he also needs them to return to the Planalto Palace, Lula, who has six presidential campaigns, launched himself to win their favor, although it is more difficult: he must measure his words so as not to disappoint his most leftist voters, who they expect progress on more progressive issues.

In recent months, the PT, defender of the Brazilian secular state and religious freedom, made some sensitive statements, especially for the evangelical sector.

For example, he commented that when he wants to talk to God, he doesn’t need “neither churches nor pastors”; that he “is not a candidate of a religious faction” or that the abortion “should be made into a public health issue.”

The former president, in addition, has been forced to refute ‘fake news’, which had a great impact on the 2018 campaign, spread among the evangelical churches, one of which affirmed in August that, in case he reaches the presidency, Lula will close churches.

In his defense, the PT spread a photo of the leftist leader with the palms of his hands in a gesture of prayer, with the message: “Lula is a Christian, he never closed or will close churches.”

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Source: Actualidad

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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