Brazil is moving from a Catholic country to an Evangelical Christian theocracy. As Catholicism and other religions become minorities some fringe Evangelical Christians are engaging in violence in efforts to convert them. Pentecostal Evangelical gangs have engaged in a murder campaign and pointing guns at Catholics and other minority religions and telling them they have a week to shut down their church. While mainstream Evangelicals allegedly not involved, in my time in evangelicalism Brazil was always a focus. But today’s post comes about after a disturbing article in the Washington Post points out the issues with fringe Evangelical Christian gangs. If Brazil is going to become like Afghanistan, this writer is going to be concerned about Evangelical Christian missionary efforts especially with the law of unintended consequences.
“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
Church sign at a Congregational Church
**In this post I just want to make clear that those threatening the violence are the alleged Pentecostal Christians who are fringe. While some Evangelical Christians will discount them as being Christians, in their own culture they no doubt would. But I want to emphasize that its the fringe who are allegedly engaging in violence. I am wanting to be as factual on this note as I can** Update 12/11/2019
Mel Books on the Spanish Inquisition
On my refrigerator I have a lot of trinkets which were picked up over the years. A number of them are from former evangelical churches I once called home. One of the magnets I picked up is from Fresno Evangelical Free during their missions festival month in 2000. The theme was, “Yet to Know Through Radio.” Starting there I first heard about Evangelical Christians efforts to convert Brazil. Brazil was Catholic, and Catholics were not saved. There were also other religious groups that needed to hear the Gospel. I heard about the evangelical Christians obsession with Brazil. Over the years and at different churches as I moved across the United States I heard about the need for the Gospel in Brazil. At a third wave charismatic church I was a member of outside Milwaukee called Wooded Hills they even praised the growth of charismatic theology inside Brazil. It was a sign of God at work in a secular nation and of a promising hope that existed and came about through evangelical Christians missionary efforts. In addition over the years I knew people from Campus Crusade for Christ who went to Brazil, and my former accountability partner who was supposed to go.
A Horrific Article in the Washington Post and how Pentecostal Evangelical Christian Gangs Are Executing and Threatening People’s Lives in Brazil
This afternoon in the Washington Post I read about the by-product of both Brazilian evangelicals and possibly American Evangelical Christian missionary efforts in Brazil. And what are they? They include stoning, death squads of gangs who go to houses at night and at gun-point tell people they have a week to convert or they will be killed. It also includes targeting both regular Catholicism and African influenced forms of Catholicism, and other minority religions. In Brazil over the last generation Catholicism has declined from 9 out of 10 to 5 out of 10. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is Pentecostal has dispatched 14,000 to proselytize gang members in the Brazil jail system. Evangelicals in the nation are on the verge of becoming a majority and some are using their power to engage in violence to stamp out Catholicism or minority based religions. In this particular case some of the Pentecostals have targeted gang members who believe its their duty to engage on a campaign for Jesus by threatening others in communities. The name of the gang is called Pure Third Command. Read the following descriptions in the Washington Post below.
“There was a pounding at the door. Strange, the priest thought: He wasn’t expecting anyone. Marcos Figueiredo hurried to the entrance of his home temple and opened it.
Guns. Three of them. All pointing at him.
The “Soldiers of Jesus” had arrived — three members of a gang of extremist evangelical Christians who’d seized control of the impoverished Parque Paulista neighborhood in Duque de Caxias. First, they erected roadblocks to keep away cops and create a narcotics haven an hour’s drive from Rio de Janeiro. Now they were targeting anyone whose faith didn’t align with their own. That meant demanding the closure of temples that practiced African-influenced religions such as Figueiredo’s Candomblé. “Nobody wants macumba here,” one of them told Figueiredo, using an ethnic slur, according to testimony he provided to authorities. “You have one week to stop all of this.” They fired into the air and left, leaving Figueiredo with an impossible choice: his faith — or his life.”
Later on in the Post they write the following.
“In Rio state, reports of religious-based violence against followers of Afro-Brazilian religions have risen from 14 in 2016 to 123 in the first 10 months of this year. State authorities call those figures vast undercounts — many victims, they say, are afraid to come forward. More than 200 temples have shut down in the face of threats this year, according to the Rio-based Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance, twice as many as last year, depriving thousands of people of their places of worship.
“It’s the quiet decimation of an entire community, and it’s the lowest of the low priorities,” said Robert Muggah, research director of the Rio-based Igarapé Institute, which tracks violence in Latin America. “They’re stuck, and in some of the most violent municipalities in Brazil, and quite possibly the world.” Stuck: That’s exactly how Figueiredo felt in Parque Paulista. He didn’t have the money to relocate. He couldn’t start a new congregation. He had to choose. Would he fight? Or would he close his temple? He had one week to decide.”
You can read more about this in, “‘Soldiers of Jesus’: Armed neo-Pentecostals torment Brazil’s religious minorities.”
Taliban executing a female in Afghanistan. Is this what evangelical Christians want to do in Brazil one day?
Can Brazil Become the Afghanistan of South America? And Will Evangelical Christians in the United States Repent of their Missionary Efforts if they Helped Bring This About?
In the fall of 1996 t he Taliban came to power in Afghanistan. When the Taliban got into power they began a campaign to enforce their rule. That included the destruction of all art, museums and religious artifacts of minority religions. The world was horrified when the Taliban dynamited 1,700 old statutes that were among the oldest in Southeast Asia. The Taliban also enforced rules for women that were draconian. They held public executions of women before soccer matches in Kabul. This is being written about because the question needs to be asked, is Afghanistan the model some fringe Evangelical Christians want to duplicate in Brazil?
Mainstream Protestants are foolish if they think these fringe Pentecostal Evangelical Christians will just stop with minority religions and Catholics. If this becomes mainstream will Pentecostal Evangelical Christians pursue similar acts like the Taliban? Will they dynamite and destroy Catholic cathedrals? Will they then focus on Methodists, Anglicans and possibly mainstream Evangelicals who disagree with them? Will they destroy museums in Brazil? Will gays or Catholics be publicly executed in former Olympic stadiums by far right evangelicals? You may say this article is off base but then again I never imagined reading that article in the Washington Post. Here is another question that needs to be asked. If this situation came about in part because of American Evangelical Christian support through a generation of missionary work will evangelicals in this country repent of supporting missionary efforts in Brazil? After all one could state that it was not the goal to help create an evangelical movement that bursts into people’s homes in the middle of the night and tell them they have one week to convert. And to do that will a semi-automatic rifle pointed at their head. I also want to point out that in the Washington Post article some mainstream Evangelicals are horrified and have condemned this behavior. But can it be stated that this could be the law of unintended consequences for Brazil? Even so in their “humility” will those who Evangelicals who engaged in missionary work in Brazil repent for their contributing factor to this? Evangelical Christians repent for their missionary work in Brazil knowing what has happened? This blog will say no, after all one of the issues with evangelicals is that they never admit a mistake, own sin, or repent. If a Southern Baptist church is not going to repent for covering up a pastor who sexually abuses a number of teenagers why would such a movement repent for their missionary efforts in Brazil when people are being killed? This article was deeply disturbing to me, and there was a time where I once support missionary efforts. Today as I struggle and push back from evangelicalism I remain concerned about missionary efforts abroad. What exactly is being preached and taught? If this situation in Brazil is the by-product of missionary work then evangelical Christian missionary efforts are toxic and can cause harm.