Brazil is Interested in Trump and Evangelicals

Believe Me 3dBelieve Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump has garnered attention around the world.  Since the book appeared in June 2018, I have done interviews with newspapers in Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, and France.  My latest interview was with Julia Zaremba of Folhapress in San Paolo, Brazil.  This seems fitting, in light of resurgence (both spiritually and politically) of evangelicalism in Brazil.

Here is a taste of her piece (translated through Google translator) “Evangelicals support Trump in expectation of conservative judges“:

Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, a right that was recognized by the Supreme Court in 2015, did not appeal to evangelicals either. “They saw Democrat management as a threat to the country,” says John Fea, a history professor and author of “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump” (believe me: the evangelical road to Donald Trump).

The dissatisfaction of evangelicals with the direction of American politics is not recent, Fea explains. In 1960, the Supreme Court banned reading the Bible in public schools. In the 1970s, the Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the country. More than 20 years later, Bill Clinton, a president defending the right to abortion, became embroiled in a case with his intern at the White House.

“Trump is a comfort to evangelicals, who are no longer as anxious as ever,” says Fea.

The difference from the predecessors, he says, is that Trump really “fights for the causes” of the group and is seen as a “strong man.” Among white evangelical voters, more than 80 percent voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The expert says, however, that support for a man who is “adulterous and who often lies” can harm the image of the Gospel. “By making a deal with Trump, they have turned almost to a lobby group that uses the president to get what they want,” he says. “From the standpoint of the Christian belief system, this is problematic.”

Read the entire piece here.

Some Brazilians Love the American Confederacy

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That’s right.  Head over to Business Insider and check out some of the pics.

Here is a taste of Melia Robinson’s piece:

When the American Confederacy lost the Civil War in May 1865, 10,000 Southerners fled the US for a small city in Brazil, where they could rebuild their lives and carry on their traditions.

Now, 150 years later, their story has been seemingly erased from the history books.

But deep in the heart of Brazil, descendants of these confederate expats gather annually to celebrate their controversial history and maintain their traditions and culture. In 2015, Vice’s Mimi Dwyer attended the festival and revealed what life is like in the city called Americana.

Brazil’s Statue of Liberty?

Christ_on_Corcovado_mountain

This is how American religious historian Thomas Tweed describes “Christ the Redeemer,” the statue of Jesus that looks down over Rio. Tweed’s reference to the statue as Brazil’s “Statue of Liberty” is from Michelle Boorstein’s recent Washington Post piece, “The Many Meanings of Rio’s Massive Christ Statue.”

Here is a taste:

Christ the Redeemer” — or “Cristo Redentor” — rises almost a half-mile into the Rio sky, and is perhaps the most recognizable Christian image in Latin America.

Yet Cristo’s meaning to Brazilians varies. Some see it as a tribute to Catholicism while others consider it a salvo against secularism. Still others in the rapidly diversifying country consider it a general symbol of welcome, with arms open wide. One of its original creators called it a “monument to science, art and religion.”

Cristo is an iconic image of Brazil. It is “reproduced everywhere,” read a 2014 BBC feature, “in graffiti art, sand sculptures on Copacabana beach — and even on skin.” During Carnival, there is a street party called Christ’s Armpit, or ‘Suvaco do Cristo,” that weaves its way at the base of the mountain, called Corcovado.

Thomas Tweed, a history professor and Latino Studies Institute fellow at the University of Notre Dame, compared Cristo to the Statue of Liberty — national iconic images that can’t help but stir debate about what, specifically, they say.

“The statue looms large on the landscape, but it hides as much as it reveals about the diverse religious life of Brazilians,” Tweed said Monday.

When the project began in the 1920s, Brazil was almost entirely Catholic. It made perfect sense for the most ambitious public art project to be funded through the Catholic Church. Until as late as 1970, 92 percent of Brazilians identified as Catholic, according to a Pew Research poll.

But today, Tweed noted, Brazil is “a remarkably diverse religious world.” A quarter of the country is Protestant — mostly evangelical — 10 percent more are unaffiliated, and there is a great deal of blending of faiths and beliefs.

According to the BBC, the original idea for a monument to Christ came from a group of Brazilians who, “in the wake of World War I, feared an advancing tide of Godlessness. Church and state had been separated when Brazil became a republic at the end of the previous century, and they saw the statue as a way of reclaiming Rio — then Brazil’s capital city — for Christianity.”

Read the entire piece here.

My Stupid Tweet About Rio

After I posted this tweet I was quietly rebuked by one of my twitter followers.  Amy Jade, a history student studying nineteenth-century Brazil, pointed me to Vincent Bevins‘s piece at The Awl: “You’re Complaining About the Olympics Wrong: How to Criticize the Game Without Sounding Stupid.”

We’re right in the middle of the phase that precedes most global sports mega-events: apocalyptic predictions and violent rejection. This usually gives way to a second phase, when the television show actually begins, everything goes mostly fine (fingers crossed here in Rio), and attention shifts to the sports. This first phase occurs in part because mainstream English-language reporters cast their eyes on places like South Africa, Russia, or Brazil, and find them unpleasantly strange and foreign, sometimes even poor. A bunch of journalists get there and find there’s not much else to do but repeatedly ask, “Wow, is this going to be a disaster?” But it also occurs because we know there are some real problems in the ways that these events are put on. Not only are many recent complaints overstated, they’re pointed in the wrong direction. Here’s a helpful guide to help you complain correctly:

First, avoid reproducing the basic, sensational, or anti-Brazil gripes. There are a great number of ways that Rio is a mess right now. But that’s not the same as saying the event itself, mostly vacuum-sealed far away from the city, will be a disaster, or that Rio shouldn’t have been given the thing. The reality may be closer to the opposite. Rio, a city quite capable of putting on big sporting and tourist events (see: the World Cup final in 2014, every Carnaval every year since forever) maybe could have chosen to skip this one.

Rio

Brazil can be criticized for broken Olympic promises, and the IOC can be criticized for its mode of operation, but to complain that Rio de Janeiro has problems in general — crime, poverty, disease, some logistical breakdowns — is tantamount to insisting the games should never happen in developing countries. One could make the argument that the Olympics don’t need to move around, or that they should only happen in the world’s best-run, safest countries, but that would go against whatever the official Olympic spirit is supposed to be these days.

Brazil is not a rich country, but it’s not poor either. It’s a very large country,roughly in the middle of world wealth rankings. But Brazil is also going through an unforeseen, once-in-a-generation catastrophic political and economic crisis. How will this affect the tourists!? Who fucking cares, say many Brazilians, very understandably. Brazil is not China or Russia, it is not a sports rival, and it is not a geopolitical enemy, it’s a nice, democratic country down on its luck right now, and journalists or tourists coming from the world’s richest countries are not fighting Latin American corruption by complaining about bad service or their hotels. Some things are just crappy here, that’s because life on Earth is crap in general, ugh, chill.

Read the rest here.  I’m glad Amy called my attention to it.  Thanks!

Edwin Rios has a similar piece at Mother Jones.

Some Brazilians Love the Confederate States of America

Apparently thousands of Confederates fled to Brazil after the Civil War.  Their descendants still celebrate the Confederacy. Check out this article over at Fightland.  Here is a taste:


One day last spring, near an old rural cemetery in southern Brazil, a black man named Marcelo Gomes held up the corners of a Confederate flag to pose for a cell-phone photo. After the picture was taken, Gomes said he saw no problem with a black man paying homage to the history of the Confederate States of America. “American culture is a beautiful culture,” he said. Some of his friends had Confederate blood.

Gomes had joined some 2,000 Brazilians at the annual festa of the Fraternidade Descendência Americana, the brotherhood of Confederate descendants in Brazil, on a plot near the town of Americana, which was settled by Southern defectors 150 years ago. The graveyard is usually empty save for its caretaker or the odd worshipper drawn to its little brick chapel. On the April morning of the festa, a public-address system blaring the Confederate battle song “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” had interrupted the cemetery’s silence. Brazilians in ten-gallon hats and leather jackets called out greetings.

For miles around the graveyard, unfiltered sun beat down on sugarcane fields planted by the thousands of Confederates who had rejected Reconstruction and fled the United States in the wake of the Civil War—a voluntary exile that American history has more or less erased. Their scattered diaspora has gathered annually for the past 25 years. The party they throw, which receives funding from the local government, is the family reunion of the Confederados, one of the last remaining enclaves of the children of the unreconstructed South. 

Read the rest here.