The Evangelical Christian politics in Latin America refers to the growing political influence and activism of the Evangelical Christian community in the region. Marginal at first, different news reports and political analysts have pointed the important weight that such community has and its impact in electoral politics, even helping in the electoral victories of conservative candidates. The movement is generally characterized by its staunch cultural conservatism (even for Latin American standards) with a very strong opposition to same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, legalization of abortion, drug liberalization and marijuana legalization, "gender ideology" and identity politics, gun control and globalism. Some may hold strong anti-communist and anti-socialist positions and endorse neoliberal and pro-free market capitalist ideas in part due to the Prosperity Theology that many hold. Some conspiracy theories like Cultural Marxism and New World Order have proven popular among its base. South American Evangelicals also tend to follow Christian Zionism and be supporters of Israel, supporting policies such as the moving of the embassies of their countries to Jerusalem.
Some have been describe also as supporters of the death penalty, "hard hand" on crime, Creationism (and opposition of teaching the scientific theories of Evolution and Big Bang on schools), corporal punishment for kids and harder laws for juvenile delinquents. Their most critical opponents signal them as having far-right, religious fundamentalist, theocratic, anti-democratic and authoritarian ideas wanting to replace democracy by theocracy.
Roman Catholics in Latin America tend to be more left-wing in economics due to the traditional teachings of the Catholic social doctrine and the Christian Democracy. Evangelical Christians on the other hand are mostly from the neo-Pentecostal movement and thus believers in the Prosperity Theology which justify most of their neoliberal economic ideas.
Beside the majority of the Christian right, there are a few left-wing Evangelicals in South America: The Brazilian Marina Silva engages herself in environmental protection and issues of the indigenous people. Another Brazilian, Benedita da Silva, fights for social equality and women's rights.
- 1 History
- 2 Differences with other groups
- 3 Corruption cases
- 4 Political parties
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Protestant missionary groups mainly from the Charismatic Movement originated in the Deep South of the United States were introduced deliberately as an strategy from Washington particularly during Republican administrations as a way to reduce the influence of left-leaning Catholic movements like Liberation Theology (which was popular among many far-left political parties and guerrillas) and the more moderate Christian socialist and Christian Democratic parties. According to Catholic blogger Jorge Rondón in his essay: La Expansión del Protestantismo Fue Parte del Plan de Guerra de la CIA para América del Sur (The Expansion of Protestantism Was Part of CIA War Plan for South America), US President Richard Nixon encouraged the introduction of Protestant missions after a 1969 memorandum received by then Vice President Nelson Rockefeller which stated: "the Catholic church has ceased to be an ally in whom the U.S. can have confidence." Something confirmed by Wade Clark Roof in his book World Order and Religion. Guatemalan archbishop Próspero Penados also blamed the US for encouraging and sponsor Evangelicalism in Guatemala for, according to him, more political than religious reasons arguing that: "The diffusion of Protestantism in Guatemala is more part of an economic and political strategy" to oppose the Catholic social justice doctrine".
In recent decades the Catholic Church has suffered a drain of followers, some of which became irreligious, agnostics and atheist some went to other alternative religions like Buddhism, Islam and new religious movements, but a large segment of former Catholics, particularly those of more humble origins and lower classes, went into the Evangelical Churches, with neo-Pentecostal and Charismatic movements proven popular amongst the converts. Pentecostalism also became popular among the lower income classes and the most abandoned sectors of society specially those of very poor and peripheral areas who see the Churches' ideas of economic growth through faith as an opportunity for social mobility. In any case, the growth of Evangelicals was quickly followed by their newly discovered political and electoral weight, with new forms of political activism and even the creation of specific political parties connected to their communities. Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was one of the first Evangelical Christians in attain power in Latin America's history.
Some examples of these movements include the support from the Evangelical Christian community to Jimmy Morales (himself an Evangelical) in Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras, Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Sebastián Piñera in Chile The Evangelical opposition in the Colombian peace agreement referendum is considered for many pivotal in its rejection, as the Evangelical parties' support of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. Countries with notorious conservative right-wing candidates supported by Evangelicals include Venezuela where pastor Javier Bertucci was the third more voted nominee, Costa Rica where preacher and gospel singer Fabricio Alvarado went into the electoral run-off and Brazil where Evangelical Christians were pivotal in the triumph of Jair Bolsonaro.
However, in some countries the alliance was with the left. The Authentic Renewal Organization is a Venezuelan Evangelical political party and member of the official Great Patriotic Pole of President Nicolás Maduro. Daniel Ortega was also supported by Evangelical pastors in Nicaragua and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo has links with Evangelical Churchers. The Social Encounter Party in Mexico is also unofficially linked to the Mexican Evangelical Community (as the Mexican Constitution forbids the existence of confessional parties) and is a member of the Juntos Haremos Historia coalition that endorsed leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a move that brought out criticism as it was a coalition with two left-wing parties.
Differences with other groups
With Roman Catholics
- Social conservativism: According to the Pew Research Center: "Even though the Catholic Church opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, Catholics in Latin America tend to be less conservative than Protestants on these kinds of social issues. On average, Catholics are less morally opposed to abortion, homosexuality, artificial means of birth control, sex outside of marriage, divorce and drinking alcohol than are Protestants."
- Economic liberalism: Catholic also tend to be more economically progressive having a tendency of supporting more left-wing and the welfare state position in varying degrees from far-left Liberation Theology which permates in many left-wing parties, to much more moderate Christian socialist and Christian Democratic postures. Evangelicals on the other hand (although exceptions exists) tend to be economically right-wing, staunchly anti-communist and support liberal economy and capitalism.
- Class: In Latin America most neo-Pentecostals and other Evangelicals are mostly from working class and lower-income groups, whilst Catholicism is still prevalent among middle and high classes and among profesionals and the political elite.
- Christian Zionism: The Catholic position regarding the Arab–Israeli conflict may vary greatly, however and although strong Israel-supporters among Catholics is not unusual, anti-Zionism is also prevalent among both far-left (especially Liberation Theology and Christian Left Catholics) and the far-right (Traditionalists, Sedevacantistas, etc). The Vatican has its diplomatic representation to the State of Israel in Tel Aviv and recognizes the State of Palestine advocating for a two-state solution, thus many centrist Catholics follow these lines. On the other hand Evangelical Christians tend to be overwhelmingly pro-Israel and support the recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
With agnostics, atheist and nonreligious
Atheist, agnostics and non-religious people are the third largest group of Latin America behind Catholics and Protestants. Coincidences with the conservative neo-Pentecostal are scarce. Although exceptions exist, non-religious in Latin America tend to be strongly culturally liberal, generally more than the average Latin American, being much more likely to support such things like secularism, abortion, same-sex marriage and birth control than their Catholic counterparts and specially the neo-Pentecostal community. Nonreligious are also much more supportive of Palestine than Israel and come mostly from the middle and high class, especially the professional and intellectual camps. Although in economic and politics nonreligious may also support right-wing libertarian, liberal and economically conservative ideas, it is also slightly more common for secularists to be more on the left and center-left of the spectrum.
Pastor Magno Malta
Prominent pentecostal politicans in Brazil have been involved in cases of corruption and law violations. Since 2007 Federal deputy Pastor Magno Malta was in involved in many scandals including embezzlement, nepotism, bribing and emission of fake bill of goods.
Pastor Everaldo Pereira
In 2012, Pastor Everaldo Pereira was convicted and ordered to pay his ex-wife, Katia Maia, an indemnity of R$ 85,000 (US$ 26,350) for material and moral damage. Pastor Everaldo asked the Justice Court of Rio de Janeiro (TJ-RJ) to overturn the decision and was acquitted by the Supreme Federal Court. In 2013, Pereira's ex-wife initiated in the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) a new judicial process, alleging that the pastor committed physical violence, followed by death threats. Katia Maia said that during the aggression there were "kicks and punches, that caused a puncture in [her] eardrum". Pereira, however, said he acted in legitimate self-defense after a car pursuit in the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Pastor Marco Feliciano
Federal deputy Pastor Marco Feliciano, one of the most prominent names of the PSC, stated that africans were cursed by Noah, leading to accusations of racism. Marco Feliciano also attacked and sexually harassed a young woman after she refused to get a well-paid job in exchange for sexual favours. After the woman refused to accept hush money, she was threatened by Everaldo Pereira.
In January 2017, Samuel "Sammy" Morales, the older brother and close adviser to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, whose campaign slogan was, "neither corrupt, nor a crook", as well as one of Morales' sons, José Manuel Morales, were arrested on corruption and money laundering charges. According to media reports, the arrests prompted several large protests of up to 15,000 people demanding for President Morales' removal. 
Jimmy Morales ordered the expulsion of Colombian Iván Velásquez, commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), after it began "investigating claims that his party took illegal donations, including from drug-traffickers" and asked "congress to strip him of immunity from prosecution." After Minister of foreign affairs Carlos Raul Morales refused to sign the executive order, he was removed from office along with viceminister Carlos Ramiro Martínez. The Constitutional Court of Guatemala finally blocked the move.
Furthermore, former cabinet minister Édgar Gutiérrez accused Jimmy Morales of having sexually abused young female public workers with complicity of other government officials.
|Brazil||Social Liberal Party||In government|
|Patriota||Junior party in government coalition|
|Brazilian Republican Party||Junior party in government coalition|
|Colombia||Independent Movement of Absolute Renovation||Junior party in government coalition|
|Colombia Justa Libres||Junior party in government coalition|
|Costa Rica||National Restoration Party||In opposition|
|Costa Rican Renewal Party|
|New Republic Party||In opposition|
|Venezuela||Authentic Renewal Organization|
- Freston, Paul (2008). Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America. Print ISBN 9780195174762. Oxford Publishing.
- Colbi, Gerald. Dennett, Charlotte. (1996), Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon : Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil
- Pink Tide
- Conservative wave
- Catholic social teaching
- Christian democracy
- Christian libertarianism
- Christianity and politics
- Political Catholicism
- Rerum novarum
- Social justice
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Faced with the dip in support, Israel is increasingly looking to evangelical communities in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere to build international support. Guatemala, where President Jimmy Morales is an avowed evangelical, was the first country to follow suit after the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem.
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One additional comment about the political theology often embraced by these groups is needed. In the 1980s, a new movement known as Dominion Theology or the Reconstructionist Movement surfaced among conservative Evangelicals. This group interpreted the Bible – especially the Old Testament – as commanding believers “to restore” each nation according to theocratic principles and to promote Evangelical moral paradigms. Reconstructionists affirm an eschatological and political vision founded on the belief that Christians were destined to govern the world. Many prominent Evangelical politicians in Latin America have embraced this ideology. They seek to bring others to their faith not only because of their propensity for proselytism but also because of their conviction that, once a nation reaches a critical mass of believers, the Spirit will pour out God’s justice and prosperity upon the population (Smith & Campos, 2012). Undoubtedly, this ideology is present, in one form or another, in other contexts and people need to be aware of its presence. It is worth noting that nowhere that the Reconstructionists have held power or influence – in Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador or Peru, for example – have they been able successfully to model sound public governance nor successfully resolve such issues as systemic corruption and violence. But they are present, they have money, and they often have access to media and to opinion leaders.
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