In the Guardian, Tom Phillips profiles Jean Wyllys, Brazil’s first openly gay MP—and explores the growing political voice of the country’s far-right evangelical leaders who oppose him:
It is a confrontation that some have compared to the culture wars in the US, and one in which Brazil’s reputation as an open and tolerant rainbow nation is undermined by firebrand pastors who conduct exorcisms of lesbians and gay men and pronounce that African-Brazilian religions are the work of “Satanás”.
“These churches are advancing on hearts and minds,” said Wyllys, accusing neo-pentecostal preachers of “demonising” gay people and the followers of African-Brazilian religions such as Umbanda in order to bolster their flocks. “For a long time they advanced silently – and now we are starting to realise the political force they have become,” he said.
A 2011 report by Fundação Getulio Vargas, one of the country’s leading research institutes, documented the recent decline of Catholic adherence and increase of evangelical religiosity: Protestant evangelicals now constitute over 20 percent of the population. Though long home to a multiplicity of lived religious experiences, and a hotbed of politically-minded liberation theologians, the country’s current transition to a period of greater religious diversity and evermore (conservative) politicized religion appears to be proving difficult.
Read more about Wyllys and his opposition here.