Do Not Underestimate Evangelical Politicians In Latin America

Image by Debby Hudson.

Taken from an article by Taylor C. Boas about evangelicals and political power in Latin America, our title is another way of saying that, though the Greek origin of the word, euangelion, suggests good news, the burgeoning numbers of evangelicals in Latin America are very bad news for human rights, which are anathema to fundamentalist obsessions. With his book Plano de Poder: Dios, Os Cristãos e A Política (Plan for Power: God, Christians, and Politics, 2008), the Brazilian evangelical “bishop”, billionaire Edir Macedo, announces that the postmodern evangelical project is “to reveal, conscientize and wake up Christians to a biblically announced cause”, namely God’s “grand nation-building project” concretised by a “project of political power”. This time round, the elect aren’t the Israelites but woken-up Christians.

In the past two decades evangelicals in Latin America have gone from being marginalised foreign missionaries to powerful political mouthpieces. Explaining their rise as a religious phenomenon in which the lively “garage churches” of poor urban neighbourhoods displaced the theologically stick-in-the-mud Catholic church isn’t very enlightening. In quantitative terms, it seems simple enough: they’ve turned their numerical heft into political capital. But the important point is that the political arena in which they operate is neoliberalism for which, as a kind of theological superstructure or at least justification, they’ve become one of the Hydra’s many monstruous heads.

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Daniel Raventós is a lecturer in Economics at the University of Barcelona and author inter alia of Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom (Pluto Press, 2007). He is on the editorial board of the international political review Sin Permiso.   Julie Wark is an advisory board member of the international political review Sin Permiso. Her last book is The Human Rights Manifesto (Zero Books, 2013).

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