This chapter discusses the religious dimension of political discourse in contemporary Brazil. Christianity (in different traditions) is a central element of Brazilian culture, shaping practice, behavior, discourse and institutions. Taken-for-granted as part of the lifeworld, Christian religiosity has always been important to the comprehension of what can be said and, more importantly, what shouldn’t be said in the public sphere. As part of their environment, political candidates and political representatives often return—strategically or unintentionally—to established beliefs and rooted practices in order to make sense to their audiences. This study presents a case study of the current Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, whose forms of expression are deeply and profusely marked by religious elements. Combining Catholic symbols, Pentecostal narratives and deference to Judaism, Bolsonaro’s discourse touches on messianic promises of salvation, order and struggle against persecution. The chapter analyzes his weekly live appearances on YouTube, where he presents his achievements and plans, restating his campaign motto: “Brazil above everything, God above everyone.” Full of biblical references and religious symbols, his performances show the vapidity of the country’s alleged secularism, pointing to the acceptance of majoritarian beliefs against the constitutional laicité.
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Creating a public religion does not necessarily mean the overlap of one religion with others. Instead, it involves creating a new frame of reference that brings together and mobilizes actors with similar thoughts and values, even from various religious groups (Burity, 2016, p. 89). Thus, we agree with Burity (2020, p. 84), who views public religion as the result of a multidimensional process through a coordinated effort to maintain traditional influence on public culture, some other spheres of the state, or even to boost the profile of emerging religions.
“Gender Ideology” is a pejorative term coined by the Catholic Church to fight against gender issues and related subjects. Widely influential in Latin America, the term is often used by those who fear that discussing sexuality in school will induce homosexuality and erode the traditional family (Biroli, 2020).
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Tamaki, E.R., Mendonça, R.F., Ferreira, M.G.M. (2021). The Symbolic Construction of a Messiah: Jair Bolsonaro’s Public, Christian Discourse. In: Feldman, O. (eds) When Politicians Talk. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-3579-3_5
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