Concurrent Panel Session Eleven

Abstract Title

When Fundamentalist Christianity Crosses Borders: Violence Against Female Afro-Brazilian Religious Practitioners

Start Date

8-4-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

8-4-2018 2:50 PM

Abstract

With evangelical Christianity on the rise in Brazil, female members of Afro-Brazilian religions are being treated as outsiders and attacked for alleged “devil worship.” However, if these attacks were about “devil worship,” extremist Christians would attack Satanists.

Leaders and spirits/orixás in Candomblé, Umbanda, and other Afro-Brazilian religions are overwhelmingly black women and known for their healing powers (just like many evangelical Christian clergymen). Annually, at least 10,000 people from all over the world honor Yemanjá in Rio de Janeiro by dressing in white and placing offerings such as white roses into the ocean. Such a public display honoring a central divine feminine figure in the Afro-Brazilian religious world surely incites the prejudices of overly zealous Christian men.

Because male evangelical Christian and Afro-Brazilian female religious leaders are known for their healing powers and work with spirits, this creates competition in Brazil’s expansive religious marketplace and also threatens the patriarchal nature of fundamentalist Christianity. Therefore, it is not shocking that 61% of religiously fueled hate crimes in Rio de Janeiro in 2017 were against Candomblé and Umbanda practitioners and/or worship spaces.

With U.S. President Donald Trump calling African and Latino nations “shithole countries” and conservative Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella denouncing Carnaval (an iconic annual event that at least tolerates drag queens, transvestites, and scantily clad women), it is no wonder conservative men in Brazil are attacking non-Christian women of color with impunity. With the current national and global political climate, even the divine feminine is not safe in Brazil.

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Apr 8th, 2:00 PM Apr 8th, 2:50 PM

When Fundamentalist Christianity Crosses Borders: Violence Against Female Afro-Brazilian Religious Practitioners

With evangelical Christianity on the rise in Brazil, female members of Afro-Brazilian religions are being treated as outsiders and attacked for alleged “devil worship.” However, if these attacks were about “devil worship,” extremist Christians would attack Satanists.

Leaders and spirits/orixás in Candomblé, Umbanda, and other Afro-Brazilian religions are overwhelmingly black women and known for their healing powers (just like many evangelical Christian clergymen). Annually, at least 10,000 people from all over the world honor Yemanjá in Rio de Janeiro by dressing in white and placing offerings such as white roses into the ocean. Such a public display honoring a central divine feminine figure in the Afro-Brazilian religious world surely incites the prejudices of overly zealous Christian men.

Because male evangelical Christian and Afro-Brazilian female religious leaders are known for their healing powers and work with spirits, this creates competition in Brazil’s expansive religious marketplace and also threatens the patriarchal nature of fundamentalist Christianity. Therefore, it is not shocking that 61% of religiously fueled hate crimes in Rio de Janeiro in 2017 were against Candomblé and Umbanda practitioners and/or worship spaces.

With U.S. President Donald Trump calling African and Latino nations “shithole countries” and conservative Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella denouncing Carnaval (an iconic annual event that at least tolerates drag queens, transvestites, and scantily clad women), it is no wonder conservative men in Brazil are attacking non-Christian women of color with impunity. With the current national and global political climate, even the divine feminine is not safe in Brazil.