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‘Soldiers of Jesus’: Armed neo-Pentecostals torment Brazil’s religious minorities

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by essentialsaltes, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. essentialsaltes

    essentialsaltes Stranger in a Strange Land

    Legal Union (Other)
    Fascinating WaPo story that provides some insight into changes in modern Brazil

    The “Soldiers of Jesus” had arrived — three members of a gang of extremist evangelical Christians who’d seized control of the impoverished Parque Paulista neighborhood in Duque de Caxias.

    Priests have been killed. Children have been stoned. An elderly woman was seriously injured. Death threats and taunts are common. Gangs are unfurling the flag of Israel, a nation seen by some evangelicals as necessary to bringing about the return of Christ.

    “Some of them call themselves ‘Jesus drug dealers,’ creating a unique identity,” said Gilbert Stivanello, commander of the Rio police department’s crimes of intolerance unit. “They carry weapons and sell drugs, but feel entitled to forbid African-influenced religions by stating that they are related to the devil.”

    The mounting violence has horrified mainstream evangelicals. “When I see these [temples], I pray against it because there’s a demonic influence there,” said David Bledsoe, an American missionary who has spent two decades here. “But I would condemn such actions.”

    Rio de Janeiro, long home to a diverse collection of Afro-Brazilian religions, is also now the center of Brazilian neo-Pentecostalism, a zealous strain of evangelicalism more frequently linked to intolerance.

    The mayor is a bishop in a Pentecostal church. The city is home to President Jair Bolsonaro, baptized in the River Jordan and carried to office by the Pentecostal vote. And it’s the birthplace of the powerful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, founded by Edir Macedo, a close Bolsonaro ally who wrote a book that condemns Afro-Brazilian religions as “diabolical” and “philosophies used by demons.” The book was briefly bannedby a judge who deemed it “abusive and prejudicial.”

    The combination of religious prejudice and criminal impunity has enabled the coordinated targeting of practitioners of minority religions.

    In the past generation, Brazil has undergone a spiritual transformation like few other places on the planet. As recently as 1980, about 9 in 10 people here identified as Catholic. But that proportion has cratered to 50 percent, and will soon be overtaken by evangelicalism, which now accounts for one-third of the population.

    Research shows that 81 of the 100 faith organizations working on social issues inside prisons are evangelical. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God says it has dispatched a volunteer army of 14,000 church members to proselytize the imprisoned.

    Those efforts, analysts say, have contributed to the growing evangelization of gang life in Brazil.
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  2. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member Supporter

    United Kingdom
    Jesus said. " By the fruits of there actions you will know them."
    No one who is a Christian is involved in criminal actions like illegal drug dealing, violence, theft, or murder.
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  3. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Sadly enough many calling themselves Christians ignore Jesus telling Peter to put away the sword. And are now armed to the teeth prepared to kill enemies Jesus said we are to love. Also lobbying for nuclear war in the Middle East to speed Jesus' return, so they think. But Jesus said
    “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” Luke 9:56 (KJV 1900)
  4. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

    Oriental Orthodox

    Also, wouldn't "neo-Pentecostals" be one of Brazil's religious minorities themselves? :scratch:
  5. Ken Rank

    Ken Rank Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    The sad reality of Christianity is that it is so large that there are people who identify with the religion but their words and deeds do not reflect the essence of the religion. People have done things "in Jesus name" for a long, long time. And often they are acting according to their own will, not His.
  6. RestoreTheJoy

    RestoreTheJoy Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Satan comes as an angel of light.
  7. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 contemplative humanist Supporter

    United States
    Other Religion
    Legal Union (Other)
    Pentecostals spreading religious bigotry around the world? Color me unsurprised.
  8. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 contemplative humanist Supporter

    United States
    Other Religion
    Legal Union (Other)
    They feel emboldened with the success of the right in Brazil with people like Bolsinaro getting into power. American style Evangelical Fundamentalism is taking deep roots in Brazil among the urban poor.