When I attended a meeting at my church to welcome new members, I heard the same story from many: They were there because it was an environment free of partisan politics. I remembered my own experience: I also accepted this criterion when I came from Recife and chose my church in São Paulo.
BUT Majority of evangelicals favor re-election of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) nothing new. All studies have shown this trend, and my experience confirms this. I don’t see a problem in the fact that the majority prefers this or that candidate, whoever he is. But it worries me political use of churches and, mostly, moments of worship to coerce the congregation into supporting the candidate.
For us, evangelists, worship is the time of the week for worshiping God, hearing the gospel, and fellowshipping with fellow believers. Before and during the campaign we saw the president and first lady use the pulpit to collect votes in the middle of the service🇧🇷 This attitude in itself should already be condemned and rejected by the evangelists themselves: the worship and authority of churches should not be used for electoral purposes.
This principle is not new even in the evangelical milieu. “When the evangelical church, as a church, makes a choice in favor of a candidate, it ceases to be a church. The Lord of the church is Jesus and he does not have voter registration in Brazil. We evangelists have the right to support, but to say that the Assembly of God supports “A” or “B” is to reduce the church to any institution, ”explained Silas Malafayain a 2002 video when he declared his support for the then-candidate Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (PT). Twenty years later, Malafaya, like other pastors, used his pulpit and Bible passages to support Bolsonaro.
Gradually the leaders and members of the various evangelical congregations began attitude to the vow as a confirmation of one’s faith in Christ🇧🇷 This association, in turn, leads to people patrolling and controlling other people’s votes, ridiculing or even excluding those who “vote wrong”. Communities that are supposed to welcome and unite completely different people under one faith have become a toxic environment.
The implications of this process go beyond spiritual matters. This indiscriminate and uncritical support from religious organizations and their leaders makes it difficult for evangelicals to participate in discussions of ideas and public policy. After all, they are stamped out as part of a political project (which doesn’t necessarily represent them in reality). The quality of public debate suffers and society becomes more polarized.
Evangelical leaders need to ask themselves how many members stopped attending services or even withdrew from their communities due to political discussions? Is this the example we want to set for the rest of society?
It is important to emphasize that the criticism of the political use of the cult and forced voting should not be confused with the position on the participation of evangelicals in politics. Every Brazilian has a trajectory, values, emotions and ways of thinking that make them support a candidate or an ideology.
No one should be excluded from public debate just because their values were forged in a religious community. It is this logic that has inspired some Protestants to contribute to strengthening the state’s secular heritage so that they can freely practice their faith.
However, when political forces take over the space devoted to the profession of faith, believers, the exercise of individual freedoms and, consequently, the reputation of society is damaged. That is, even if the evangelical majority candidate won, the church would still be one of the biggest losers in the election. To overcome defeat, evangelical leaders will have to return to engaging in public debate based on Christian values and abandon the false messiah’s power project.
TRENDS / DISCUSSIONS
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