In Brazilian electoral politics, there are rules to try and even the playing field, punishing candidates who win their races thanks to the unfair use of money — labeled an “abuse of economic power” — with impeachment. This week, the country’s Superior Electoral Court tried a case which would decide the level of scrutiny religious leaders would face when running for office. They would decide whether or not to create the crime of “abuse of religious power,” and if it should be an impeachable offense. The case was brought up by Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin, who believes that religious leaders are overstepping their roles and using faith as a vote-whipping tool.
Justice Fachin, however, lost in a 6-1 vote.
His peers say that the current rules, as they are, already regulate such transgressions. Moreover, Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who voted with the majority, said “one cannot transform religion in absolutely neutral movements without political participation and legitimate political interests.” His words echo those of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who once said he was confused about which Bible people were reading when they said that religion and politics do not mix.