Associated Press defends Umbanda as an “Afro-Brazilian religion under threat”
By Julio Severo
Lying in a pentagram is Rosa Cardoso, a woman that has practiced the Afro-Brazilian religion of Umbanda most her life and, according to the Associated Press (AP), has been “hiding her faith from the rest of the world”.
|Umbanda house of worship|
I grew up seeing in the Brazilian crossroads of my neighborhood offerings to the African spirits. These offerings comprised fruits, food, alcohol beverages, cigarettes and sacrificed animals such as goats. Interestingly, the English version of Wikipedia has also no mention of animal sacrifices in its entry on Umbanda. Its Portuguese version makes a mere passing mention, saying that these sacrifices are practiced only by some Umbanda ramifications.
By reading this AP report and the English Wikipedia, you see no sacrifices. But when you live in Brazil in a place where there is a lot of “hidden” Umbanda, you see a lot of these weekly, very visible offerings to the African spirits in the crossroads. A lot of sacrificed animals.
The AP omission hit other aspects of this “threatened” religion. Young women that want to entice an employer turn to Umbanda to receive “assistance” from the African gods. Married men, who do not understand what is happening, are driven to an obsessive adultery under the powerful influence of spiritual forces.
Yet, the AP worry was the “intolerance and outright hostility against Umbanda, as well as Brazil’s other major African-descended religion Candomble”. AP reports that Rosa “Cardoso said she’s learned not to let down her guard when it comes to protecting herself from religious scorn. This country of 190 million remains predominantly Roman Catholic, even as Pentecostal congregations have won over legions of converts”.
The AP “report” said,
Many in Rio can rattle off the names of a few Orixas, and thousands of believers and sympathizers flock to beaches on New Year's dressed in white to leave offerings for the ocean goddess Iemanja.
Nonetheless, many Brazilians often view Umbanda and Candomble as barely benign versions of witchcraft, and believers are loath to acknowledge publicly they follow the faiths. In many parts of the country, practicing Umbanda was outlawed until the 1950s, and in the following three decades believers were supposed to register with the police.
Umbanda was founded a little more than a century ago, drawing from older traditions such as Catholicism, the beliefs of enslaved Yoruba people brought from West Africa, the spirituality of Brazil’s indigenous groups and the teachings of 19th century French spiritualist Allan Kardec.
The religion has many variations, but all share belief in a supreme being, Oxala, and in a pantheon of other African-origin deities, many of whom are identified with a Catholic saint and with natural forces or elements. They also believe these deities, along with other spirits, can enter the body of psychics to advise and interact with the living.
A city survey in 2011 found 847 Umbanda houses of worship in Rio, though like Cardoso’s they’re often not easy to spot.
Coincidently, the Rio de Janeiro state has almost 50% of all murders in Brazil. This was another omission in the AP “report”. Umbanda has gods for prostitution and even destruction, including death. And Rio has a lot of these.
Brazil’s post-dictatorship 1989 constitution enshrined the freedom to hold such ceremonies, but Umbanda’s followers say official disdain and intense prejudice still put their lives and shrines at risk.
[A] report, which was submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by a Brazilian religious-freedom group, details 39 cases of discrimination around the country in 2009.
Cases of persecution against Umbanda and Candomble have increased along with the presence and the power of Pentecostal religions…
AP fails to report that the former Lula administration and the current Dilma Rousseff administration (both the most socialist governments in the Brazilian history) had and have active policies to protect Afro-Brazilian religions as a “culture” inherited from African slaves. While Catholic and Protestant traditions have increasingly been banned from schools and other government places because the State is “secular”, Afro-Brazilian religions and their practices are making inroads, with state assistance, into schools and other places, in a privileged way. Because Christianity is religion, and Afro-Brazilian religions are “culture”.
With such state protections, even Brazilian Blacks are banned from criticizing the Afro-Brazilian gods, as reported by me in WND:
“In Rio, a Pentecostal [Black] minister led a criminal to Jesus and convinced him to deliver himself to police. Rev. Isaías da Silva Andrade accompanied the former criminal to police and when they asked how his life had been changed, the minister answered that the former criminal lived under the influence of demons from Afro-Brazilian religions which inspired him to criminal conduct, but now he found salvation in Jesus. Because of this innocent account, Rev. Andrade is now being prosecuted for discrimination against the Afro-Brazilian ‘culture’! If condemned, he will serve between two and five years in jail.”
As a son of a former Umbanda leader who accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I see no problem in speaking the truth about the witchcraft derived from Africa. In fact, Brazilians remember, when there was still no veil of racial censorship, the regular scandals reported by media of pai-de-santos (Afro-Brazilian priests) involved in a number of child sacrifices.
In his book Porque Deus Condena o Espiritismo (Why God condemns spiritualism, CPAD: Rio de Janeiro, 1987, pages 66-68), journalist Jefferson Magno Costa tells of a case:
It was noon when he found little Fernando, a 9-year-old boy, walking along the railroad track near the city of São Roque, in the rural area of São Paulo. He took the boy home, asked his lover (with whom he had been living for some weeks), Dalva Braga Medeiros, to give the boy food and change his clothes.
Dalva was slow to comply and he took the clothes of one of the woman’s children and put them on Fernando. After drinking blue rum, he took the boy by his hand and went out, saying that he was going to buy more rum. Upon his return, Dalva saw blood stains on the little Fernando’s clothes. Immediately she understood that the boy had been raped.
Some minutes later, he invited Fernando to go out again, but because the boy refused and showed fear, he decided to call 12-year-old Rogério, Dalva’s son, to keep company with that scared and defenseless child, and to “see how a little pig is killed”.
Leading the two boys up to a hilltop, he drew a trident on the floor. Next, as Rogério reported, he grabbed little Fernando by his neck and jabbed a knife deeply into his chest. But, unsatisfied because the boy was slow to die, pai-de-santo Josué Rodrigues de Souza made a four-inch cut on the neck of the small victim, and began to lick his blood.
After committing this abominable, horrendous and devilish act, the pai-de-santo murderer called Dalva, “because she had never seen a sacrifice”. He showed her the dead child covered in blood. He confessed to her that he’d committed the murder under possession of demon Zé Capoeira, and that he raped the child before killing him, “because Satan does not accept the soul of pure people” (O Globo newspaper, 13/03/1986). “I had to kill a person and give his blood to Satan. He was demanding”, were his words when seized after the crime. (Veja magazine 19/03/1986, p. 111).
Journalist Jefferson Magno notes,
The atrocious crime committed by pai-de-santo Josué is only one of hundreds of cases involving people that, thinking that they are serving God, are serving Satan… Given the numerous cases of that kind reported by press, it is sad that the outrage of the general populace has no memory. Society forgets things easily. Some years ago, pai-de-santo Waldir Souza Lima was taken into custody in Rio, because he killed, in black magic rituals, six children abducted in different locations in the State of Rio. (Page 73)
In the past, newspapers were free to report and denounce child sacrifices in the Afro-Brazilian religions. You can find a lot of old reports on these crimes involving child rapes and murders by Afro-Brazilian priests. But nowadays, under the watchful state eye, only flattering reports are allowed, such as “oppressed” religion, “threatened” religion and other words that the AP “report” used abundantly.
Today, the Brazilian media no longer reports pai-de-santos sacrificing children. And they are unwilling to talk about other related crimes.
When Pentecostal minister Francisco de Paula Cunha de Miranda was stabbed to death by an Afro-Brazilian priest in 2008, the Brazilian media was silent.
Miranda, 47, was murdered in Rio Grande do Sul. He was Black (and cannot, even after his death, be accused of “racism”) and was on his 33rd day of fasting and prayer when pai-de-santo Júlio César Bonato, incorporated by exu caveira (demon of death in the Afro-Brazilian “culture”), left his temple during a ritual to go to the minister.
The pai-de-santo returned to his ritual with his ritualistic knife bloody.
The minister, who was very weak because of the long fasting, was stabbed to death.
The Brazilian media remains silent about this horrific murder even today. Even the AP “report” made no mention of this crime.
Last year, a group of Umbanda adherents stabbed to death another evangelical, Nilton Rodrigues, 34, and wounded others, including an evangelical minister, João Carlos de Oliveira. Media was silent again.
I am worried that this special protection may have been made strong by Condoleezza Rice, a famous daughter of an American Presbyterian minister. She came to Brazil to strength the roots of the Afro-Brazilian religions. Her example shows that the Afro-Brazilian religions are now an international interest.
The “Brazilian religious-freedom group”, which AP said that denounced Brazilian evangelicals in the UN, is headed by an Afro-Brazilian priest, who has a high standing with the Brazilian government, which sends him to the UN meetings to denounce Brazilian evangelicals, who denounce Afro-Brazilian religions as witchcraft. As in the case of homosexuality, the mere criticism of them is treated as “prejudice, bias, discrimination, intolerance”, etc. Now, even Catholic books criticizing them are banned.
Afro-Brazilian practices that have always been seen as witchcraft by the Brazilian society have increasingly been protected by the government, UN and media. And Christianity and its values have increasingly lost protection and even been attacked by them.
Sodomy, which has been extoled and afforded the status of a special human right in the UN, is largely practiced by Afro-Brazilian religions, where their gods and spirits entice and lead their adherents, especially their priests, into prostitution, including homosexuality.
Will this sodomy-loving religion have a special status in the New World Order?
Economic and ecological disasters are flooding the world, but whatever happens, people will not renounce Umbanda, Santeria and homosexuality, because, even after many last-day plagues, God says that mankind will not “repent of their sorceries or their sexual immorality” (Revelation 9:20-21 ESV).
Condoleezza Rice, a famous daughter of an American Presbyterian minister, visits Brazil to strengthen Afro-Brazilian religions