RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson this week authored a piece published in WORLD Magazine titled, “Lula Is Back on the Scene.” Patterson discusses the recent reelection of Luiz Inacio da Silva, more commonly known as “Lula,” as President of Brazil, and its consequences for religious freedom in the country. He writes:
On Oct. 19, Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio da Silva—known to millions simply as “Lula”—published a public letter pledging that he would not restrict religious freedom if elected. This past Sunday, Lula narrowly won Brazil’s presidency, an amazing feat in itself since he was in jail for corruption just a few years ago. But, why was it necessary for Socialist Lula to make a grand pronouncement about religious freedom in the final days of the campaign? What are we to make of the fact that a dozen Latin American countries now have Socialist regimes in power?
In his victory speech on Oct. 30, Lula asserted, “I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, not just those who voted for me. There is no such thing as two Brazils. We are a single country, a single people, a great country.” Clearly, however, Lula’s campaign advisors realized that many practicing Catholics and evangelical voters were not convinced of Lula’s good intentions, hence Lula’s Oct. 19 statement on religious freedom, “My government will not adopt any policies that hurt religious liberty or create obstacles for churches to function freely.”
Lula’s Socialist Workers Party is a contradiction. On the one hand, its anti-poverty advocacy has made it popular among many Catholics and some evangelicals among the country’s poor. Lula himself rose from humble beginnings, worked as a miner, and lost a finger in an industrial accident. At age 77, he is a walking rags-to-riches story, and now, after a corruption scandal and imprisonment, he is Brazil’s comeback king.
On the other hand, as scholars point out, Lula’s party has taken militant stands favoring abortion rights and LGBTQ policies, which are deeply offensive to morally orthodox Catholics and, especially, the majority of Brazil’s evangelicals. Earlier this year, Lula stated his support for abortion as a “right” and then backtracked, saying he was personally against abortion. Religious people worry that a win by Lula’s Workers Party may result in them being targeted when speaking out on corruption or social issues, as has happened in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Read the full article: “Lula Is Back on the Scene.”