How can I explain Brazilian politics to the foreign public? This is not a simple task. The famous Bossa Nova’s musician, Tom Jobim (1927-1994), said once that Brazil is not for beginners.
The same thing can be said about the complex relationship of Pentecostal evangelicals with national politics. Since redemocratization in 1985, Brazilian politics has gone beyond the traditional division between conservatives and progressives.
For example, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who ruled Brazil between 1995 and 2002, was a Marxist sociologist early in his career in the 1960s and later became a Social Democrat in the 1980s. However, his government in the late 1990s had an economic management marked by classical liberalism.
Another example is President Fernando Collor that governed Brazil between 1990 and 1992. He was himself elected as a right-wing leader, but his administration confiscated investments in a disastrous economic plan, something unthinkable coming from a conservative politician. The last example that we can give is President Lula da Silva. This President, that governed Brazil from 2002 to 2010, is a leftist leader, but several right-wing parties have supported him, including most evangelical politicians.
The division between right and left in Brazil has been always very nebulous. This started to change in 2018. The last Brazilian election was very similar to the North American electoral model.
In 2013, an IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) report was published stating that 95 percent of scientists are positive that the climate crisis of today is caused by mankind. Over the past 40 years, greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity have increased by 70 percent. During the same time, global meat consumption has tripled.
The connection between meat consumption and greenhouse gas emissions received increased attention in 2013, when the UN’s Organisation for Food and Agriculture released a report stating that around 18 precent of greenhouse gas emissions today comes from animal agriculture. And even if there would be zero emissions from all sectors such as energy, transport and trade, but not from animal agriculture, this would still not be enough to keep the planet from overheating. The issue of meat production and ultimately meat consumption is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.
Happy new year! 2018 has been an exciting year for PCPJ. The organization has been expanding globally and we have reached a wide audience through for example The Christian Post and Sojourners. Here are some highlights from the past twelve months:
The Trump Letter. Amos Yong, Craig Keener and Brian Zahnd were among the signatories of our open letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to stop using war rhetoric, welcome immigrants and take climate change seriously. While the president doesn’t seem to have changed course, the letter still received much attention and showed the world that many Pentecostal and charismatic leaders take peace and justice seriously.
PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden. In February, PCPJ organized a leader’s seminar together with PMU, the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization. We talked about the future of PCPJ, how Swedish churches and organizations can connect and what Pentecostal and charismatic leaders need as they promote peace and justice.
Shane Claiborne Interview. In an exclusive interview with PCPJ, activist theologian PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, February, Shane Claiborne talked about his charismatic faith and his interactions with Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson. “I’m a huge believer in miracles,” Claiborne said. “I often refer to the fish and loaves miracle that Jesus does as a conspiracy between us and God working together. I think it was both a miracle and the attentiveness of the disciples, to notice that people were hungry. I think one of the beautiful things is that God refuses to change the world without us. He wants us to be a part of this.”
Jesse Duplantis’ Jet Dream. One of the most well-read articles this year was Kevin Daugherty’s critique of prosperity preacher Jesse Duplantis and his conviction that God wanted his church to raise him tens of millions of dollars for a jet plane. Challenging prosperity theology is one of PCPJ’s primary aims, replacing it with a theology of simplicity and equality. “Material prosperity is not a blessing for a disciple of Christ. Rather it is a temptation. As the Apostle Paul says, it is the root of all evil. It is something that rots us from the inside out and makes us less loving towards our neighbor”, Daugherty wrote.
The Trump Tragedy. Another well-read article was Liz Ríos reflections on what many evangelicals of color see that white evangelicals don’t. “So here’s the thing, for white evangelicals, their interpretation of scripture on the issues mentioned is what has them standing by Trump no matter what he does (although we cannot forget their hypocrisy because if this was Obama, his head would have been on a plate already).And for evangelicals of color, it’s the same thing. Their interpretation of scripture on the immigrant, the poor via policies and rhetoric concerning DACA, the border wall and such is what has them standing against Trump.”
Five Weird Ways People Deny That Jesus Was a Refugee. Finally, Grenholm’s article defending the notion that Jesus was a refugee went viral, reaching thousands of readers around the world. Grenholm writes: “The million-dollar question is obviously why people try to deny that our Lord and Savior was a refugee? What’s so uncomfortable with a historical fact? I think we all know the answer to that: they don’t want their countries to receive refugees today, and so they fear the idea that God might think otherwise.”
Behind the scenes, the PCPJ team of contributors and administrators has expanded and the number of members are steadily growing. We’re looking forward to an exciting new year with many more opportunities to promote Spirit-filled peace and justice!
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!
It’s a pretty scary thing asking an external body to do some research for you and having absolutely no control over the findings. What if you don’t like what they come back with?!
So it was with some nervousness that we decided at Tearfund to team up with the research firm Barna Group to look into connections between caring for people in poverty and spiritual growth.
In particular, we wanted to look at what we call a ‘whole life response’ to poverty. Tearfund is absolutely committed to helping Christians, in the UK and around the world, respond to poverty in a ‘whole life’ way: through prayer, giving, advocacy, lifestyle, and other actions such as volunteering. We summarise that as Pray, Act, Give.
In November, Gracie and I spent ten days with Sub-Saharan African migrants in Egypt and Morocco—most of whom are undocumented. Spending time with these vulnerable and courageous people has refreshed our perspective on life and faith.
I share these thoughts on migration and immigration in response to disturbing news articles I’m reading about anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA and Europe–and I hope to dissuade people of faith from any collusion with negative attitudes and the promotion of restrictive policies.
This past Sunday I preached at an underground church made up or largely undocumented African immigrants living in Morocco. Morocco is now the preferred crossing point for Africans seeking to enter Europe—though many have no choice but to seek passage via war zones like Yemen, or failed states like Libya.
It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.
Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?
1 Climate Change
According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.
Almost every Evangelical knows what the 81% means when talking about politics. Nothing more actually needs to be said in many cases because most on both sides of this political discourse know. If you are reading this and you don’t know, where have you been? That percentage represents the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Others state that 35%-45% of all evangelicals voted for Trump. And still others debate if it was 81% at all. At the end of the day, it does not really matter the exact number because what we are seeing in America is that too many Evangelicals voted for Trump knowing all he represented BEFORE going to the polls.
What white evangelicals saw (and continue to see) in Trump is a hero. Some even have referred to him recently as Jesus Christ himself with a billboard ad that stated “the Word became flesh” (verified here for those who can’t believe anything negative). THAT is scary!
They see him as the hero that will be the one to slow the growth of diversity (specifically brown taking over America although Brown as in Latinos is the majority in the U.S. already), slow the shrinking role of religion (because in no way does legislating public and private behavior even for non-Christians look like the Taliban) and here’s the biggie reversing Roe vs. Wade, which if can accomplish that, he will be delivering on an evangelical dream that five Republican presidents, including Ronald Regan could not deliver. All this is mesmerizing for white evangelicals so much so that they are willing to do (and have done) anything to get these deliverables, even if they have to sell their soul to do it. Which they have also done.
For many (not all) evangelicals of color, Trump is simply a tragedy in American politics. At first no one took this reality star seriously but then a shift occurred, a racist base was rallied and a biblically illiterate and/or privileged white evangelical community aligned with his agenda and well, the rest is history.