That religion has a powerful political force, confesses Samuel P. Huntington in his controversial book The Clash of Civilizations (1977 he was one of adviser in the desastrous Vietnam’s war), which today, with the new Cold War, has become relevant again. He states: “In the modern world, religion is a central force, perhaps the central force that mobilizes people…What ultimately counts is not so much political ideology or economic interests, but religious convictions of faith, family, blood and doctrine; it is for these things that people fight and are willing to give their lives” (p. 79, 47, 54). He himself was heavily critical of American foreign policy for never giving importance to the religious factor. And he had to feel in his own skin Islamic terrorism with a religious background.
Let’s consider the situation in Brazil. I quote here the reflection of a person deeply inserted in the popular environment with an acute sense of observation. It is worth listening to his opinion, because it can help in the campaign to defeat those who are dismantling our country.
He states: “I fear that by appealing more and more to the religious factor, stirring up the phantom of communism = atheism and religious persecution, the negationist and the “enemy of life” may eventually still threaten to win.
“For, it is inescapable to recognize: the people en masse are religious to the bone (superstitious the “intellectuals” will say, never mind)”.
“They sell their body and soul for religion, indistinctly understood as ‘that God thing’, especially the Brazilian, syncretist that he is.”
“And this appeal, I am not saying that it is good, but only that it has a tremendous force and I fear very much that it could be decisive at the moment of deciding the vote.”
“Unfortunately, this issue carries little weight in the campaign of Lula and his allies. I would say almost the same thing with respect to the two other values that Bolsonaro and all the “!new right” of the world boast: God, Homeland and Family, the trilogy of Integralism that the old left doesn’t want to see even painted. And yet that is where the new right is mobilizing the masses in the world and also in Brazil”.
“And note how easy it is for a candidate of the new right like Bolsonaro to present to the electoral mass this triad: him praying (God), with a Brazilian flag (Homeland) and with Michelle by his side (Family), three scenes of guaranteed commotion and irresistible attraction for the people. Who can be against prayer, the green-yellow flag, and a wife (especially if she is very feminine)?
“Intellectuals can speak all they want against this right-wing populism. But that it works, it works. And that’s what matters to the right, and I think it should also matter to the left, without offending ethics, because it is perfectly possible to defend these three flags, once integrist, as moral values, on the condition, however, that they are not exclusive: of those without religion, of other homelands, and of LGBT+respectively.”
“But even if Lula wins, which the polls indicate, the issue of the three flags above will remain. And the Bolsonarists will continue to wave them, as the new right is waving them around the world (see Trump, Putin, Le Pen, Salvini et caterva). And it is the “God flag”, above all others, that will be most politicized by the new right, and this the less the old left has digested this issue and the less attention the Church itself, progressive or liberationist that it may be, seems to pay to the changing Zeitgeist, designated as post-modern.”
The great challenge of the campaign of the coalition around Lula/Alckmin, which also belongs to the historic Christian churches, especially the Catholic Church, is how to attract these masses, manipulated and deceived by the Pentecostal churches, to the values of the historic Jesus, much more humanitarian and spiritual than those presented by the self-proclaimed “pastors and bishops” and true wolves in sheep’s clothing. These are religious expressions of the market, of the misleading propaganda and styles that directly contradict the biblical message and that of Jesus, because they directly use lies, slander, and fake news.
It is worth showing how the Jesus of the Gospels was always on the side of the poor, the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the sick women, and he healed them. He was extremely sensitive to the invisible and most vulnerable, men and women, in short, to those whose lives were threatened. Love, solidarity, truth, and welcoming everyone without discrimination, such as those of another sexual option, seeing in the blacks, quilombolas and indigenous people our suffering brothers and sisters, are worth much more.
It is important to be in solidarity with them and to stand with them to make their own way. This behavior is worth much more than the “prosperity gospel” of material goods that we cannot carry for eternity and, deep down, do not fill our hearts and do not make us happy. Whereas the other values go with us as an expression of our love for our neighbor and for God and bring us peace in our hearts and a happiness that no one can steal from us.
Logically, it is important to undo the slanders, refute the falsifications, and eventually use the available means to legally incriminate them.
It is always worth believing that a little light dispels all the darkness and that truth writes the true page of our history.
Brazil deserves to come out of this devastating storm and see the sun shining in our sky, giving us back hope and the joy of living.
Leonardo Boff wrote Brazil: conclude the refoundation or prolong the dependency, Vozes 2018; The ambitious fisherman and the charming fish: the search for the just measure, Vozes 2022.