While governors and mayors try to enforce restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, a Supreme Court injunction allowed the reopening of churches for physical worship all across the country.
Justice Nunes Marques — President Jair Bolsonaro’s first Supreme Court appointment in October last year — granted a request by the National Association of Evangelical Legal Experts (Anajure) to allow in-person Easter celebrations. “I recognize that the moment is for caution. Still, and especially because we experience such hard times, religious activities are all the more essential,” the justice wrote in his injunction.
“It is worth remembering that over 80 percent of Brazilians declared themselves Christians,” he added, citing figures from the 2010 Census.
Health experts have urged for a nationwide lockdown and wanted authorities to impose travel restrictions, fearing that Easter gatherings might fuel even more what has already been the most brutal surge in coronavirus infections and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Brazil’s seven-day average of new daily deaths jumped from 1,225 on March 1 to over 2,800 on April 3.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, prominent Evangelical leaders have downplayed the severity of Covid-19 — and preached against restrictive measures. According to pollster Datafolha, Evangelical Christians are more prone to be skeptical of restrictive measures. Almost half of Brazilian evangelicals don’t fear catching the coronavirus — more than any other group.
But churches have also helped millions of people during the coronavirus crisis, with massive food drives that are well-documented on social media.