Brazil’s new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is hard at work trying to integrate conservative Christianity with government – and he’s getting plenty of help from sympathetic lawmakers.
Looking at the list of legislative proposals, I was struck by how much it resembles the agenda of U.S. Religious Right groups. My friend blogger Hemant Mehta, who first reported on this story, noted the same thing: Brazil is plagued by Project Blitz on steroids.
The Brazilian Religious Right has unveiled the following wish list:
Creationism in public schools: A legislator has blasted the fact that only “evolutionism” is taught in public schools, arguing that this is unfair “since the creationist doctrine is the predominant in all our country.”
Bible classes in public schools: Unlike the U.S. where fundamentalist Christians mask their intent by calling for “Bible literacy” courses, Brazil’s Religious Right just puts it right out there: They want public school students to be compelled to study the “Holy Bible” because they believe this will make them more moral.
Christianity in prisons: One legislator wants to give prison inmates a break on their sentences if they will agree to read the Bible. No equivalent break will be offered if a prisoner reads another religious book or a secular tome.
Ending marriage equality: Marriage equality has been the law of the land in Brazil since 2013. A pending proposal would roll that back, arguing that “God approved of sexual relations within marriage, but same-sex relationships are absolutely forbidden by God.”
Religious symbols at the seat of government: There’s already a large crucifix in the chambers of the National Congress. Bolsonaro is pushing legislation to make sure it stays there.
Bolsonaro was raised Roman Catholic, but his wife and son are evangelical Protestants. During the 2018 campaign, Bolsonaro allowed himself to be baptized by a Pentecostal pastor during a visit to Israel. Regardless of what his personal beliefs may be, Bolsonaro owes a political debt to the country’s Religious Right, which backed him heavily last year. Asked why evangelicals backed Bolsanaro, an Assemblies of God pastor replied, “Abortion, deconstruction of traditional family and sexual indoctrination of children in schools.”
Sound familiar? We hear the same rhetoric from U. S. Religious Right groups.
Keep your eye on Brazil. If current trends continue, it may offer a taste of things to come in America.