When Jair Bolsonaro was elected president in 2018, he promised to promote an “ideology-free” political and economic agenda. He accused left-wing predecessors of turning Brazil into a Socialist state. However, Mr. Bolsonaro was not true to his word and applied conservative ideology to most decisions since his administration began in January 2019.
Education was not spared. Since the reformed captain took office, he has openly supported the establishment of an old-fashioned education system that exalts Christian values. He even asked the military to keep an eye on the goings-on in schools and universities — places he and his cronies call zones of depravity.
But the era of faith-before-books reached boiling point this week. Education Minister Milton Ribeiro, an Evangelical pastor, was heard in audio recordings telling some city mayors that his administration would put their conservative-run cities ahead of others for funding. Funding would funnel toward areas endorsed by two fellow evangelicals, who allegedly received kickbacks in return. The scandal exploded when Mr. Ribeiro said this determination came from Bolsonaro.
Accusations of such a ferocious religious agenda are problematic in a supposedly secular state. But, proximity to the church could mean more support for Bolsonaro.
Meanwhile, some pastors criticize the alleged practice, who said the pastors in question didn’t represent the Evangelical caucus or community at large. However, it is crystal clear that Bolsonaro is the top candidate for these religious groups in the October elections.
If it depended on the government, Brazilian schools and universities would not form engineers, teachers, or scientists. If they had their way, we would see the Bible replace textbooks and suits substituting t-shirts.