The election campaign in Brazil has just begun as a kind of holy war, starring President Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle, a fervent evangelical who has surprisingly entered the grief with unexpected vigour. In fact, during that government she had been cornered without being given the slightest attention because Bolsonaro does not trust women he considers inferior, so much so that his confession that after three sons his last daughter was a ” Slip” was famous because he would rather have had another man. To the President’s surprise that his wife’s fiery religious speech was beginning to garner more applause than he did at public events, he too raised the flags of God and Satan, which have eventually monopolized national attention.
Everything was born when Bolsonaro and his government realized that women were the majority of voters and that their vote was leaning towards Lula. And in dialogue with these mostly least educated evangelical women, the religious issue could be crucial. And the holy war began. Michelle rose from her political ostracism and threw herself in the ring with God and Lucifer in a deeply religious country, even beating Lula herself on social media, who began to idolize her.
Michelle has managed to divert the political struggle from the issues that really plague millions of people in this country to focus on a religious struggle. As Josué de Souza, author of Religion, Politics and Power, wrote: “The truth is that more than once this year God and the devil will merge”. Both candidates, Bolsonaro and Lula, already safe contenders for the presidency, begin to present themselves as envoys of God and accuse each other of being possessed.
It was Michelle who opened up the topic that Lula and the left had represented the devil in the presidential residence for all these years. “For many years this place dedicated to demons has been dedicated to Jesus today,” he cried publicly. In fact, the First Lady conducts a service with evangelical and faithful pastors every week in the President’s room with her husband. A sort of exorcism to exorcise from this place the demons of the left who, according to her, have nested there and which she identifies as evil versus good, an easy way to avoid a real political debate. Michelle, who named God 29 times in a 13-minute speech, affirmed to great applause: “The one who rules Brazil today is not my husband, it is Jesus.”
It was Bolsonaro who, following his wife Michelle’s new prophets, warned against “those who persecute and close churches and think of themselves as great Christians, who support and praise socialist dictatorships and present themselves as defenders of democracy”.
Bolsonarism’s strategy of avoiding a real political and social duel in the election campaign and turning it into a religious war makes Lula and his advisers careful about how they should behave. Lula, who also vigorously protested in his political speeches against the accusation that he would close down Protestant churches if he was elected, and Bolsonaro’s insult to portray him as the devil and enemy of God, countered that he was “a Satan-possessed Pharisee”. However, his advisors convince him not to get involved in the religious controversy with Bolsonaro and to focus on the economic crisis, the hunger already affecting millions and bringing hope back to a country that has been in a grip for years give hatred and fear of a new coup.
Religious entities of various faiths warn not to fall into the trap of holy war, as Bolsonarism “practices a dangerous fundamentalism characteristic of fascist regimes.” It’s strange now that so many candidates of all political persuasions, many of whom are recognized as agnostics, appear in election propaganda, just in case, and visit all sorts of evangelical temples and pray reverently. In other words, one hand to God and the other to the devil.
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