In 2016, as congressmen voted on whether to impeach then-President Dilma Rousseff, no fewer than 58 politicians dedicated their votes in favor of the move to their faith. Just a few months later, the country’s tourist capital – with its reputation for hedonistic Carnival displays – surprised international observers when it voted for the Evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella as its mayor.
Despite being theoretically secular, the Brazilian state has a peculiar relationship to the Church – as shown by its consistent dedications and religious tributes wherever possible. God is written into Brazil’s Constitution and has his face emblazoned on Brazilian Real notes. A cross sits in the Supreme Court, where Brazilian justices meet, and there are official collective worship ceremonies held every Wednesday morning in the lower house.
While plenty of other countries have similar practices, the Lower House’s vote on Dilma’s impeachment shows that in Brazil, the line between religion and state becomes a little more blurred. During the Lower House impeachment vote, Congressman Marco Feliciano exclaimed: “With the help of God, for my family and for the Brazilian people, for Evangelicals across the nation, for the boys in the MBL, […] to say goodbye to this darling, bye to the Worker’s Party, the party of darkness, I vote yes!”
“The Evangelicals were very important actors in the national congress with regards to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff,” says Christina Vital, a professor at the Federal Fluminense University.