With about three weeks left before the highly anticipated mid-term elections I know it’s hard to keep up on events occurring in other parts of the world. I like to think of myself as someone that is fairly well read, especially when it comes to foreign affairs, but a story from last weeks New York Times caught me a bit off guard. Brazil, the country known for bringing us such fabulous imports like Soccer star Pele and the thong bikini (Aren’t we all indebted to the thong for inspiring Sisqo to produce such an amazing song?) was embroiled in a heated presidential election.

While I’m no expert on Brazilian politics I have followed the countries developments to improve education, eradicate poverty, and improve the welfare state. I was an admirer of previous president Lula da Silva, and was intrigued with Brazil’s desire to implement a Universal Basic Income. I know that the recent President was removed for office and that much controversy surrounded the “soft-coup” that removed her from power. However, I did not realize how polarized the country had become politically.

As I learned in the article Brazil is a country undergoing a radical change in religious values and practices. 22% of the countries population is now “Evangelical Christian.” This is an interesting new development, particularly when one considers that Brazil has historically been an important foundation for the growth and power of Catholicism in South America. Consider that in America, where Evangelicalism plays an extremely important role in politics, culture, and civil society, the U.S has about 26% of the population claiming the “Evangelical” mantle.

While Evangelical Christianity is fairly “young” Brazilian political observers have noticed an increasing influence of Evangelical thinking on the nations politics. Once considered a country set apart for it’s “democratic socialist” ideals, the Pew Forum on Religion notes that some estimates have “54% of the population reporting that conservative political and cultural views dominate their electoral decisions.” What has been the result of such a dramatic change in the religious and political make up of the country?

One thing that stands out is the spread of the American based Assemblies of God organization in the country. The Assemblies of God denomination (for those who may not know, Assemblies of God is the Christian denomination that former Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin belongs to) is the “fastest growing Evangelical group in the country.” The New York Times reports that “many American pastors from the Assemblies of God in America have been flocking to Brazil to set up Churches, train Pastors, and create infrastructure to help the organization increase its footprint in Brazilian life.”

As an Evangelical who hold extremely left-wing political views (sorry Mom and Dad) I tend to support organizations like the Assemblies of God that work hard to spread the message of Jesus, and pray that they stay far away from trying to influence local politics. However, as the New York Times is reporting, this has not been the case at all. The Assemblies of God have become deeply involved in Brazilian politics. The results have been nothing short of disastrous.

In Brazil Presidential elections start with  anywhere from 4 to sometimes 10 candidates on a ballot. Barring that any one candidate receives over 50% of the vote, the top two candidates to receive the most votes will head to a final election later in the year. Two weeks ago conservative politician Jair Messias Bolsonaro won the highest percentage of the vote and will be taking on liberal politician Fernando Haddad.

As to be expected the countries Evangelical community is strongly backing Conservative Bolsonaro. However, it’s the statements and political history that make this support so troubling. For starters, Bolsonaro has stated, “human rights are used to support criminals,” and that “I’d rather have a dead son than a gay son.” If those statements aren’t enough to question why the Assemblies of God are so keen to support this candidate than consider this statement he gave when asked by reporters what he thinks about a female liberal politician whom he works alongside in Brazil’s Congress: “I wouldn’t rape her. She isn’t worthy of it.”

Politics is a messy business. I’ve worked in politics and have seen that it can bring out the worst in people. As Christians, however, we have a special call to follow the words of Isaiah 49:6. In this passage God tells the Prophet “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” As Evangelicals go out to other nations, we must ask ourselves if we are spreading the light that Christ has demanded we let shine?

As an Evangelical who is also politically progressive and uses the scriptures to inform my political outlook I have no problem with Christians getting involved with politics. However, this involvement must be grounded in scriptural justice. That means that when a candidate like Bolsonaro says Black Brazilians “ don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreation any more” we must stand up and speak words of life. We must make sure that “our salt has not lost its flavor.”

Polls are showing that Bolsonaro, with his almost unanimous support among the countries Evangelical’s, will easily win the second round of elections and become Brazil’s next President. I pray for Bolsonaro. I pray that Christ will change his heart. I pray for the Christians of Brazil. I pray that they meditate on the Scriptures and realize that “gaining the whole world and losing your soul” is a process that must be rejected. I pray that justice reigns in Brazil and that hate is shunned. To my fellow Evangelicals I say this: WE CAN DO BETTER! LETS BE TRUE MORAL, SPIRTUAL, AND ETHICAL LEADERS!

 

 

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34 thoughts on “Have Evangelicals become Missionaries of Darkness?

  1. Jesus has always had people from all political spectrums following Him, from Matthew the civil servant for the Roman occupiers, to Simon the Zealot who wanted to kick them out. Christ transcends party political divides. His kingdom is not of this world.

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      1. My friend, unfortunately so often Evangelicals will only cite those two examples of things that are “non-negotiable.” My heart is heavily burdened with carrying out Christ’s call to deal with the “least of these.” I don’t share your focus on “heterosexuality” as being something to negotiate. A large majority of my Christian Brothers and Sisters disagree with me and i understand why. I just believe that Christ’s grace, and the call to go out in his name are much larger than gay marriage and abortion.

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      2. I believe there is grace for repentant homosexuals and abortionists, we were just talking about the intersection of our faith and politics. I totally agree that our mandate isn’t to campaign on political issues but to preach the good news for all who believe. Thanks for the article.

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      3. Robert, i hear you. I understand you. I thought like this as well. We can do this all day. However, i don’t believe it’s edifying. I will state several scriptures arguing against legalism, to which you will cite several more on fidelity to obeying Christ’s commands, to which we will both leave frustrated towards each other. These disagreements are not worth the time in my opinion.

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      4. Is it legalistic to obey Christ’s commands? Or is it progressive to disgard them? It’s all very well being progressive, but if we’re progressing in the wrong direction it’s no good. The text either means what it does or it doesn’t. If we don’t have time for Scripture we’re building on the wrong foundation.

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      5. So you’re interpretation of Mathew 25:40 is that, and stop me if i’m wrong, that only “Christian believers” should receive our help? So Christ, in essence, is saying “as Christians you only have to care for other Christians, everyone else can worry about themselves.”? This is the only conclusion one can make from your statement. I’m pretty sure this is not what you believe but if we use your reading of scripture to engage in thinking about problems that extend beyond our community than this is what we logically will conclude with. Again, this will be the second time i say this, but i have the sense you don’t care, i’m not interested in this type of debate.

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      6. Okay I’ll stop you right there. That’s not what Jesus is saying. As it says elsewhere, “do good to all, especially to the household of faith”. You seem to be judging me as though I’m some kind of Republican American when I’m a more left wing Brit. Maybe ask me the questions before jumping to conclusions.

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      7. No, I said we should care for our brethren, so you took it that I meant we don’t have to care for people who aren’t our brethren. That’s faulty logic. You judged me to be saying that we shouldn’t care for outsiders, you judged me wrong.

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      8. Again, i wasn’t judging you. I was simply following your reading of scripture to it’s logical conclusion. I even stated in the comment “i’m sure you don’t agree with this.” I assumed you don’t agree with that conclusion, yet, your reading of scripture can only lead to that conclusion in my opinion.

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      9. Just because Jesus commends doing good to the brethren doesn’t mean to say that Scripture elsewhere commends doing good to everyone. I don’t cherry pick Scripture, I read and seek to take to heart it all

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      10. Robert, you seem like a great person and i appreciate you taking the time to comment. I hope my responses aren’t taken as coming from a place of anger or disunity. I appreciate you sharing your voice and heart.

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  2. I enjoyed this post very much. I have been watching – with growing unease – the way some of the more radical evangelicals in my OWN country (Canada) are beginning to back/fund/support politicians and political parties that will support their agenda, no matter the moral cost (i.e. politicians who are clearly paying lip service to a religion they neither adhere to, or value on a personal level). I am no biblical scholar so I may be wrong about this, but when Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”, wasn’t he supporting the separation of church and state, perhaps exactly for the reasons you have mentioned in your post?

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    1. Patti, that is one hundred percent correct. I’m calling on evangelicals to become “moral authorities” not “political authorities.” I think if a religious person wants to run for public office that great. But i also think it’s equally great if an atheist wants to run as well. I believe evangelicals need to use faith to support policies that promote the best of humanity. Too often, my community, is responsible for promoting things that destroy the human spirit (war, poverty, harsh judgments, etc..) I pray that one day, people who aren’t evangelical can say “hey, i don’t agree with the religious beliefs of evangelicals but i will say that they are a kind people that only want to help.” I’m saddened that in today’s world my community, and rightfully so i must say, only conjures up thoughts of judgment and bigotry. I pray this changes soon. Thanks so so very much for reading and taking the time to comment. It means the world to me!

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      1. I have always had a profound and unquestioning faith in God but organized religion scares me to death. No matter what the religion, we start out with such lovely intentions but then inevitably, there has to be a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way. And then everyone is angry and no one is listening. I do currently attend a fairly evangelical church, but I always keep a wary eye on the door, just in case I feel the need to bolt. Thank you so much for letting me know that there are other people out there who are trying to strike a balance. You’ve given me hope…

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      2. I understand Patti. I also understand your feelings of “watching the door.” I pray that more of us who understand the commission of Jesus to be a “light unto the world” speak up and drown out those who are a negative force in the life of this world. I can’t thank you enough for reading and commenting!

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  3. It seems that evangelicals tend to not truly follow God. They tend to follow racism and hatred, and fear. I believe they never believed in God in the first place. They just used religion of following Him and His Son to further push their racism and hatred. That’s my view on it.

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    1. I think to a certain degree there is validity to that. However, the average Evangelical tends to be a very sincere believer in God and the Scriptures. Its just that so often the “cares of the world” come in and distort so much of Jesus and his teachings on Salvation and Christian ethics.

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  4. Having grown up in the Assemblies, baptized there, dated there, married there and graduated from Vanguard University, I too am concerned with certain fundamentalist tendencies that can lead to social injustices. Although I still attend an Assemblies church, I do not consider myself in agreement with many of its statements. But since my family and my wife’s family are all evangelical and my 94 year old mom has always been Assemblies…well I am kinda stuck.
    Fundamentalist Christians, and to a degree, evangelicals as an extension of fundamentalism, have always been attracted to authoritarian systems. Coincidently, so is Trump. It is one reason white evangelicals find him appealing. If what evangelicalism has done to the political sphere in Africa and South America is any indication of what we could expect in America if evangelicals regain power, then I think democracy is in for a rough ride.

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