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Faith and Fury

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The current wave of political conservatism in Brazil is also reflected in a shift in religious forces. The traditional form of religion, Candomblé, is a blend of Catholic and African spiritual elements. These days, however, it is increasingly losing ground to the so-called neo-charismatic movement, an offshoot of evangelical Christianity that doesn’t think capitalism is a dirty word.

Religion commands the respect of the authorities, and the drug gangs are therefore using the religious movement as a form of moral money laundering. The militant and aggressive rhetoric of drug dealers turned pastors is also a good match with the gang culture of the slums. Fanatical supporters preach a “spiritual war” against the pernicious influence of popular telenovelas. New souls are easily persuaded by catchy gospel funk.

The factional struggle is producing ever stronger polarization in the country and fueling increasingly violent conflict: after all, surely the Bible is above the law? Through interviews with adherents of both religions, pastors and gang members, Faith and Fury paints a shocking picture of this new reality, which is having a major influence on politics.

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