Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An evangelical Brazil?

An evangelical Brazil?

Perspective from an evangelical Brazilian on the possibility of a mostly evangelical Brazil on the future

By Julio Severo
I saw the evangelical future of Brazil. No, I did not have any supernatural vision. I merely saw an actual regional scenario rightly pointing to a national reality.
Many evangelicals think that the chaotic Brazilian picture would change if the majority of the Brazilian population were evangelical. Would more Brazilian evangelicals mean more integrity, honesty and justice in Brazil?

São Gonçalo: mirror of the evangelical future of Brazil?

I knew São Gonçalo, in Rio de Janeiro, a county that, according to Pr. Fernando Rezende, has the largest concentration of evangelical ministers and churches per square kilometer in the whole Latin America.
As most Brazil, São Gonçalo reflects very well evangelical diversity, with temples and denominations from the most traditional to the most modern. Walking across São Gonçalo, you feel the evangelical presence on every side.
However, does São Gonçalo have fame for evangelical characteristics? It is a county with high rates of murders, violence, crimes, prostitution, etc. It is a place known by its abandonment, filth, garbage, etc. And, not by coincidence, the first Brazilian case of homosexual civil union to receive approval in the Superior Justice Court came from… São Gonçalo!
Where the Gospel of Jesus Christ enters, the effect is shining: darkness retreats. But does darkness have receded in São Gonçalo?
There is not only a large concentration of ministers and churches in São Gonçalo, but major political posts there, including mayor, belong to evangelicals. Even so, gay activists occupy major roles in the city hall. Where is the Gospel change?
Of course, there are men and women there who are faithful to God and call upon God for justice. But the question is: Why are so many ministers involved in dishonest schemes in São Gonçalo? Why are so many schemes connected to evangelical political officials? Where are the São Gonçalo prophets to cry against the evangelical alliances with the darkness of the political corruption?

Evangelicals and politics: what is happening?

Some evangelical Christian could ask the question: “Julio, how could you apply the São Gonçalo example to an evangelical Brazil in the future?”
My answer: “Is São Gonçalo evangelically different from the rest of Brazil?”
There are many — especially spiritual — common factors to be considered, but I will focus only on the political aspect.
Every evangelical Christian, whether a leader or not, has political power. In São Gonçalo, ordinary evangelicals, with no post of political and religious leadership, have used their political power to keep in power individuals without the Kingdom of God vision and integrity. In fact, who decides the political course of São Gonçalo are the ordinary evangelicals, because they have the voting power.
Is not throughout Brazil this way too? Evangelicals comprise significant part of the voters, but are the electoral results showing an increase of influence of the Kingdom of God values? Is the evangelical vote putting into the government men who, instead of an obsession to promote abortion and homosexuality, have the goal to lead the State to fulfill its responsibility to punish the wicked and grant security to the good citizens?
There is abundant corruption in the São Gonçalo politics. Why are not evangelicals in politics there different of non-evangelicals? Notable exception was Dr. Geremias Fontes, who was mayor of São Gonçalo from 1959 to 1962. Later, he became the governor of Rio de Janeiro, leaving as an example a political and administrative integrity not seen in the modern politicians of São Gonçalo. He was the most honest politician I knew in Brazil.
Why are not the strong presence of evangelicals in the current São Gonçalo politics and the strong presence of evangelical ministers and churches in the São Gonçalo society changing the picture of corruption, crimes, murders and prostitution there?
The evangelical population of São Gonçalo uses their voting power in the elections. Why do not spiritual changes come?
Evangelicals and even ministers enter the politics of São Gançalo with good intentions. Why do they eventually get spiritually weakened and corrupt?
How would a future evangelical Brazil be different of that reality?

Where is the different Brazil?

The Brazilian evangelical population uses their voting power in the elections. Where are the national political changes pleasing to God?
Evangelicals and even ministers enter the Brazilian politics with good intentions. Why do they eventually get spiritually weakened and corrupt?
Is the increase of the evangelical presence in the politics changing the chaotic Brazilian picture? On the contrary, even with substantial evangelical presence, socialist president Lula, with all his obsessive political devotion to abortion and sodomy, got elected by many evangelical votes, with the support or the silence of the most evangelical leaders.
Therefore, does Brazil need an evangelical future? A large national growth of evangelicals could transform Brazil in the São Gonçalo Federative Republic.
What Brazil needs are followers of Jesus Christ having the courage to live and take seriously the Kingdom of God values in the political sphere.

Evangelicals and the thief State

The evangelical Christian in the politics swallows the ideological visions imposed on him from every side and he does not see anything abnormal in the state accumulation of wealth at the cost of stealing taxation. Decades ago, Brazil had a tax load on the citizens of 10%. Today, this load increased to an unbearable and unimaginable load of about 40%!
That is, most taxes today are products of state robbery, through unjust laws. How would a follower of Jesus be a good administrator of public resources acquired through state robbery?
The Brazilian state, unjustly enriched by criminal taxation, alleges that its sky-rocketing tax levy is intended to help the poor and to invest in health-care, education, etc. Would the follower of Jesus accept such excuse?
What would you say of an evangelical Christian that invested 4 million dollars in children’s hospitals and schools? Doubtless, it is a good and praiseworthy action. But what would you say if the origin of those 4 million were products of robbery, where a robber robbed a bank and later gave away everything to the evangelical Christian, who by his turn gave away everything to charity?
The investment was right, but the money was dirty, because it was product of robbery. To administer product of robbery does not bring blessing to those administering it. Then is this why most evangelical politicians in Brazil are not being blessed and besides eventually fall in scandals?

Robbing “to help” the poor?

How can an evangelical (or Catholic) Christian be a good administrator of product of robbery?
Much harshness is unfairly laid on God because of his commands, but He never ordered the State to rob citizens. The State does it by its own accord.
In the Bible, God tells people to share with the poor. God never suggested that the State has the power and authority to rob from some to give to others.
In God’s plan, the sharing of belongings should be motivated exclusively by the love to the neighbor, not by tyranny and abuses of state taxes. When the State uses its force in that area, the consequence is hate and murders in a large scale.
The socialist system, which says that it wants only to make income distribution among people, has provoked more than 100 million murders.
The socialist system is a total insult to the teachings of Jesus, who preaches love and actions motivated by love.
Therefore, to achieve a level where people may feel love for the neighbor, society needs the Gospel. When the subject is love, the State is ineffective and useless. The Gospel promotes love between citizens, without robbing from some to supposedly give to others. But when the State, with the allegation to help the poor, robs through taxation, hate advances.
By coincidence, no ideology has promoted more hate and murders than socialism. How then can so many evangelicals embrace a cursed ideology that shed so much Christian blood during the history of mankind?
How are Brazilian evangelicals able, following the direction of that ideology, to enter the politics, wanting to be upright men being at the same time “good” administers of products of robbery through unjust taxation?
Many evangelicals followed such course and the consequences are patent, but the follower of Jesus acts in a different way. He enters the political system with the changeless and unshakeable Kingdom of God values and changes the system. He does not enter the system to be merely a part of the machinery.

The follower of Jesus always makes a difference

The follower of Jesus enters the political system and, seeing the 40% of state robbery in taxation, fights to bring justice in the form and quantity that the State collects and administers public resources. The follower of Jesus will lead the State to fulfill only the calling God gave it: to punish the criminals and praise the good citizens.
Those opposed to God say that it is cruelty to give a tenth from the income to God every month, but even among God’s people no one questions when the Brazilian State taxes by force 40 per cent of the income from every worker!
The Bible says that God granted to the State the authority to carry the sword — meaning the authority to use the capital punishment on dangerous criminals. The Brazilian State carries the sword — which is the power to make lethal threat to criminals — not to exterminate criminality and criminals, but to threaten good citizens with abusive taxation.
The State became divine by charging from citizens a mandatory “tenth” four times bigger than the tenth that is delivered to the only and true God.
It is impossible to do God’s will in the politics without faithfulness to God’s Kingdom. Are not the evangelical politicians of São Gonçalo proof of that reality? In fact, many evangelical politicians across Brazil are evidence of that fact. It is impossible to be a God’s servant in the politics being a “good” administrator of product of robbery.
However, are the evangelical politicians the only culprits for the lack of major positive change in Brazil? Evangelical voters in Brazil probably are the biggest culprits, because they use their voting power most the time in a wrong way. How many pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality politicians governing Brazil today were not elected by many evangelicals?
The follower of Jesus, when faced by the options of only corrupted politicians in the election time, chooses no candidate. But the evangelical, or Catholic, voter chooses “him who is less bad” — because the same State that imposes criminal taxation also systematically indoctrinates him that it is a “democratic must” to vote, whoever may be the candidate.
The follower of Jesus gives no heed to the thief State and totalitarian ideologies. He gives attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Whether as a politician or as an ordinary voter, the follower of Jesus is realistic, and he understands that he is dealing with a State that, instead of fulfilling its basic function to punish actual crimes, is a committer of crimes and robberies itself.
Whether as a politician or as an ordinary voter, the follower of Jesus surrenders himself in the hands of the supreme Politician to bring political changes in Brazil. He is not simply an administrator of a thief State, but he will be servant of the Kingdom of God in the Brazilian politics, willing to follow every command from the King.
By seeing São Gonçalo, I saw the evangelical Brazil in the future! Now I see that Brazil, more than ever, needs an increase of men and women faithful to the Kingdom of God. These men and women will be used by God to transform Brazil.
Portuguese version of this article: Um Brasil evangélico?

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