Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Catholic Who Won Over Evangelicals, Pledges to Follow Bible as President

Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro (R) following his victory in the presidential election on October 29, 2018.
Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro (R) following his victory in the presidential election on October 29, 2018. | (Screenshot: The Guardian)

Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro, who has won his country's election to become the next president, has sharply divided opinions among evangelicals, churches, and families.

Mainstream media sites around the world, including BBC News, have described him as a "far-right" politician who gained popularity for his vow to fight crime and corruption in the country, despite controversial remarks on race, women, and homosexuality.

Bolsonaro, who won 55.2 percent of the vote against the 44.8 percent for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers' Party, vowed in his victory speech to "change Brazil's destiny together."

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He thanked God for helping save his life during an attempted assassination on the campaign trail, and said that he will govern "following the Bible and the constitution."

"We cannot continue flirting with socialism, with communism, populism and the extremism of the left," Bolsonaro said, according to The Telegraph.

Evangelicals, who make up 29 percent of the country, are believed to have voted in large numbers for Bolsonaro, a Roman Catholic. Pre-election polls showed that 61 percent of evangelicals were planning on voting for him, having been won over in part due to his slogan, "Brazil above everything, God above all."

Luceni Alves, a presenter on Radio Relogio, an evangelical station in Rio de Janeiro, told BBC:

"He believes in the word of God and in my principles," Alves said. "He's against the legalization of abortion because that goes completely against God's word. He's also against the legalization of drugs."

The radio presenter said that one notable reason for supporting Bolsonaro has been his stance against the sexualization of children.

"The Bible says God made man and woman and in my opinion, gender ideology confuses children, it deconstructs what God built," she added.

Providence Journal pointed out that the support from evangelicals has come despite the former military officer speaking in support of things like dictatorships, torture, and closing down the national Congress.

"Like most if not all Brazilians, members of religious communities across the board are sick of corruption, crime, and stagnant economic prospects. But these are not typically 'religious' issues. Rather, there appears to be a complete and visceral rejection of the Workers Party (PT), in part due to its secularism and in part due to a perception of the social licentiousness that PT governments ushered in," the analysis offered.

Brazilian journalist Jarbas Aragao told Evangélico Digital that Christian churches played a major rule during the campaign.

"Many pastors, bishops and leaders of ministries sided with Bolsonaro," Aragao said. "Churches had been praying for Brazil for a long time, not only during the election".

He added that many evangelicals see Bolsonaro's election as "an answer of God," but not all agree. The Evangelical Christian Alliance of Brazil for instance warned that "never before there has been such a political participation of supporters of one or the other candidacy."

Journalist Jessica Grant of Spanish website Protestante Digital observed that the country has been divided in ways it hadn't been before. Grant said that in many churches in Brazil, those who have offered different political views have been excluded.

"The Bible has been used to attack each other," she said of the weeks leading up to the election.

"Churches and families are divided, and the trust has been broken in many cases," she added.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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