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Thread: Christianity and religious freedom (with Brazil as a test case)

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    Christianity and religious freedom (with Brazil as a test case)

    I apologize if I hit anybody's paywall. I haven't read a Washington Post article in a long time so I had no problem reading this one...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...rce=reddit.com


    Essentially, armed Pentecostalists have taken it on themselves to rid the country of indigenous religious beliefs by destroying their places of worship. However, it's gone even beyond that; they have killed people, and even stoned children in the process. Apparently some evangelists are targeting gang leaders for conversion, but not imploring them to leave the gang lifestyle, but rather to use their influence to Christian-ize the violence in the inner cities (the Israeli flag has become a gang symbol).

    The article notes that mainstream evangelicals in Brazil are horrified and quotes one evangelist who denounces the violence but supports spiritual warfare.

    I don't *think* anybody here other than maybe a couple people would be in support of the violence so that's not my real topic for discussion. My question is, where do Christians draw the line as far as religious freedom goes? In the Old Testament, when the Jews did have political power, the message was clear that they were not to allow paganism to flourish, and idols were to be destroyed. In the New Testament, when the Christians did *not* have political power, things were different. Paul did not run around smashing all the idols at Mars Hill while he looked at them. I have to admit, though, that I was not outraged like most Westerners were when the Afghanistan government started destroying Buddhist statues. It didn't seem like something Christians should be fighting for.

    In Brazil, Christians *do* have political power. I think American Christians generally recognize that religious freedom is something that can work in your favor, and religious restrictions can be placed against you once the winds change. This hasn't always been the case, of course. Children are taught in schools that the Pilgrims moved here for religious freedom, but the teachers tend to skip over that executions for religious offenses were common in New England for the next century or so. American Christians now generally view that as unwise/unjustified, and I'd agree. So what is the best way to approach the issue of religious diversity?
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    I believe that truth can stand up for itself. Besides this violence doesn't seem justifiable. The governmental system of Isreal was a theocratic one in which God himself was supposed to lead, but even them people didn't want God to lead. God himself told folks what would happen if they had kings and they still wanted one.

    We must remember that though God is willing to fight he takes no joy in suffering or violence. God wants people to know him and to know truth and justice and love. I believe that that is what we are called to do.

    I do believe that people have the right to defend their lives as well as their property and community.

    I honestly think wanton destruction will only make folks think people are being hypocritical when people say that Jesus came to upend evil. Jesus did say he came to bring a sword but the sword he carries is not one like ours.

    I know it all sounds rather trite but I dont really know what else to say.

  3. Amen mikewhitney amen'd this post.
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    Religion has historically been integral with national culture and identity. It has been hard to separate the tight bond of religion and government. However, the American colonies carried this aspect over from Europe. It took the goal of a unified nation to create a United States and ultimately to provide a cooperation among various Christians groups.

    Since we are not in the OT context, Christians are not called to remove religious symbols/idols/structures of other people from the land. (I would make an exception if the symbols/idols/structures were within a context of overthrowing our freedom.)

    People are given the choice to come to Christ rather than coming by external compulsion. Any acts of destruction or force therefore are unwarranted and would cause distaste toward Christianity. There could also be retribution. I would think that the type of wisdom expressed here would be shared in Brazil both within congregations and publicly in order to point out the improper behavior of the destructive Christian groups.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Yeah this reminds me of the Westboro group. Using hate for Jesus. Forcing conversions [especially through violence] is diametrically opposed to what Christianity is all about.
    [I couldn't read the actual article because of the paywall]

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    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Yeah this reminds me of the Westboro group. Using hate for Jesus. Forcing conversions [especially through violence] is diametrically opposed to what Christianity is all about.
    [I couldn't read the actual article because of the paywall]
    Westboro reads parts of the bible where it says hate and fail to look into the context of the word.
    For instance after Laban scams the patriarch into marrying a completely different woman the text says he hated one and loved another. However sociocultural data shows that this doesn't add up. After all he stayed with her and brought her honor by providing children.

    Another thing is that we as humans can not despise evil in the same way God does. When the text speaks of the wrath of God for instance wrath is used because it is the closest a human could get to understanding what God feels concerning his righteous disposition towards evil. We can relate of course but we are not God.

    The truth is most of throughout our lives have so much we have to fix up about ourselves before we really can help anyone without making a hypocritical ass of ourselves.

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I apologize if I hit anybody's paywall. I haven't read a Washington Post article in a long time so I had no problem reading this one...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...rce=reddit.com


    Essentially, armed Pentecostalists have taken it on themselves to rid the country of indigenous religious beliefs by destroying their places of worship. However, it's gone even beyond that; they have killed people, and even stoned children in the process. Apparently some evangelists are targeting gang leaders for conversion, but not imploring them to leave the gang lifestyle, but rather to use their influence to Christian-ize the violence in the inner cities (the Israeli flag has become a gang symbol).

    The article notes that mainstream evangelicals in Brazil are horrified and quotes one evangelist who denounces the violence but supports spiritual warfare.

    I don't *think* anybody here other than maybe a couple people would be in support of the violence so that's not my real topic for discussion. My question is, where do Christians draw the line as far as religious freedom goes? In the Old Testament, when the Jews did have political power, the message was clear that they were not to allow paganism to flourish, and idols were to be destroyed. In the New Testament, when the Christians did *not* have political power, things were different. Paul did not run around smashing all the idols at Mars Hill while he looked at them. I have to admit, though, that I was not outraged like most Westerners were when the Afghanistan government started destroying Buddhist statues. It didn't seem like something Christians should be fighting for.

    In Brazil, Christians *do* have political power. I think American Christians generally recognize that religious freedom is something that can work in your favor, and religious restrictions can be placed against you once the winds change. This hasn't always been the case, of course. Children are taught in schools that the Pilgrims moved here for religious freedom, but the teachers tend to skip over that executions for religious offenses were common in New England for the next century or so. American Christians now generally view that as unwise/unjustified, and I'd agree. So what is the best way to approach the issue of religious diversity?
    Source: ‘Soldiers of Jesus’: Armed neo-Pentecostals torment Brazil’s religious minorities


    There was a pounding at the door. Strange, the priest thought: He wasn’t expecting anyone. Marcos Figueiredo hurried to the entrance of his home temple and opened it.

    Guns. Three of them. All pointing at him.

    The “Soldiers of Jesus” had arrived — three members of a gang of extremist evangelical Christians who’d seized control of the impoverished Parque Paulista neighborhood in Duque de Caxias. First, they erected roadblocks to keep away cops and create a narcotics haven an hour’s drive from Rio de Janeiro. Now they were targeting anyone whose faith didn’t align with their own. That meant demanding the closure of temples that practiced African-influenced religions such as Figueiredo’s Candomblé.

    “Nobody wants macumba here,” one of them told Figueiredo, using an ethnic slur, according to testimony he provided to authorities. “You have one week to stop all of this.”

    They fired into the air and left, leaving Figueiredo with an impossible choice: his faith — or his life.

    It’s a decision more Brazilians are being forced to make. As evangelicalism reconfigures the spiritual map in Latin America’s largest country, attracting tens of millions of adherents, winning political power and threatening Catholicism’s long-held dominance, its most extreme adherents — often affiliated with gangs — are increasingly targeting Brazil’s non-Christian religious minorities.

    Priests have been killed. Children have been stoned. An elderly woman was seriously injured. Death threats and taunts are common. Gangs are unfurling the flag of Israel, a nation seen by some evangelicals as necessary to bringing about the return of Christ.

    Candomblé — like Santería and Voodoo, rooted in the belief systems brought to Latin America by enslaved people from West Africa — is vanishing from entire communities.

    “Some of them call themselves ‘Jesus drug dealers,’ creating a unique identity,” said Gilbert Stivanello, commander of the Rio police department’s crimes of intolerance unit. “They carry weapons and sell drugs, but feel entitled to forbid African-influenced religions by stating that they are related to the devil.”

    The mounting violence has horrified mainstream evangelicals. “When I see these [temples], I pray against it because there’s a demonic influence there,” said David Bledsoe, an American missionary who has spent two decades here. “But I would condemn such actions.”

    The global ascent of evangelicalism and particularly Pentecostalism, its fastest-growing movement, has led to violence against indigenous and African religions from countries such as Haiti, Nigeria and Australia. But analysts say the forces fueling the prejudice here — the historic presence of religious minorities, newly emboldened evangelicalism and lax state oversight — are particularly acute.

    Rio de Janeiro, long home to a diverse collection of Afro-Brazilian religions, is also now the center of Brazilian neo-Pentecostalism, a zealous strain of evangelicalism more frequently linked to intolerance.

    The mayor is a bishop in a Pentecostal church. The city is home to President Jair Bolsonaro, baptized in the River Jordan and carried to office by the Pentecostal vote. And it’s the birthplace of the powerful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, founded by Edir Macedo, a close Bolsonaro ally who wrote a book that condemns Afro-Brazilian religions as “diabolical” and “philosophies used by demons.” The book was briefly banned by a judge who deemed it "abusive and prejudicial."

    Those beliefs, espoused frequently by Brazilian Pentecostal pastors, now echo through Rio’s favelas, where evangelicalism is exploding and where authorities have largely relinquished control to gangs. The combination of religious prejudice and criminal impunity has enabled the coordinated targeting of practitioners of minority religions.

    In Rio state, reports of religious-based violence against followers of Afro-Brazilian religions have risen from 14 in 2016 to 123 in the first 10 months of this year. State authorities call those figures vast undercounts — many victims, they say, are afraid to come forward. More than 200 temples have shut down in the face of threats this year, according to the Rio-based Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance, twice as many as last year, depriving thousands of people of their places of worship.

    “It’s the quiet decimation of an entire community, and it’s the lowest of the low priorities,” said Robert Muggah, research director of the Rio-based Igarapé Institute, which tracks violence in Latin America. “They’re stuck, and in some of the most violent municipalities in Brazil, and quite possibly the world.”

    Stuck: That’s exactly how Figueiredo felt in Parque Paulista. He didn’t have the money to relocate. He couldn’t start a new congregation. He had to choose.

    Would he fight? Or would he close his temple?

    He had one week to decide.

    ‘All evil has to be undone in the name of Jesus!’

    In the past generation, Brazil has undergone a spiritual transformation like few other places on the planet. As recently as 1980, about 9 in 10 people here identified as Catholic. But that proportion has cratered to 50 percent, and will soon be overtaken by evangelicalism, which now accounts for one-third of the population.

    The presence of evangelicalism feels larger still. Television is overrun by televangelism. The evangelical music industry is worth an estimated $1 billion. Evangelical politicians have pulled the country rightward on social issues. And the prison system, long the gangs’ most potent recruiting venue, has become the field for an entirely different kind of conversion.

    Research shows that 81 of the 100 faith organizations working on social issues inside prisons are evangelical. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God says it has dispatched a volunteer army of 14,000 church members to proselytize the imprisoned.

    Those efforts, analysts say, have contributed to the growing evangelization of gang life in *Brazil.

    Christina Vital da Cunha, an associate professor of sociology at Federal Fluminense University, has spent decades studying evangelicalism in Rio’s favelas. “Some pastors and denominations strategically bet on converting traffickers in privileged places in the hierarchy of crime,” she said.

    Several of the converted were leaders of the powerful gang Pure Third Command. The conversions, Vital said, helped instill a new “evangelical religious morality” in the criminal group as it waged a war of conquest against other gangs in Rio’s northern reaches — exactly where many followers of Afro-Brazilian religions had settled.

    [*Article continues at link below*]


    Source

    © Copyright Original Source


    That should more than suffice to set the stage.

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    This article makes some good points and asks some good questions about the WaPo article.

    IMO, it's a problem that there is, AFAICT, only one source reporting this story directly, and a further complication that the source is paywalled.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    This article makes some good points and asks some good questions about the WaPo article.

    IMO, it's a problem that there is, AFAICT, only one source reporting this story directly, and a further complication that the source is paywalled.
    The getreligon.org reminds us why we have to be careful about news. If the reporters and editors don't make sure to get the full story, we end up with improper or incomplete understanding of the world around us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I apologize if I hit anybody's paywall. I haven't read a Washington Post article in a long time so I had no problem reading this one...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...rce=reddit.com


    Essentially, armed Pentecostalists have taken it on themselves to rid the country of indigenous religious beliefs by destroying their places of worship. However, it's gone even beyond that; they have killed people, and even stoned children in the process. Apparently some evangelists are targeting gang leaders for conversion, but not imploring them to leave the gang lifestyle, but rather to use their influence to Christian-ize the violence in the inner cities (the Israeli flag has become a gang symbol).

    The article notes that mainstream evangelicals in Brazil are horrified and quotes one evangelist who denounces the violence but supports spiritual warfare.

    I don't *think* anybody here other than maybe a couple people would be in support of the violence so that's not my real topic for discussion. My question is, where do Christians draw the line as far as religious freedom goes? In the Old Testament, when the Jews did have political power, the message was clear that they were not to allow paganism to flourish, and idols were to be destroyed. In the New Testament, when the Christians did *not* have political power, things were different. Paul did not run around smashing all the idols at Mars Hill while he looked at them. I have to admit, though, that I was not outraged like most Westerners were when the Afghanistan government started destroying Buddhist statues. It didn't seem like something Christians should be fighting for.

    In Brazil, Christians *do* have political power. I think American Christians generally recognize that religious freedom is something that can work in your favor, and religious restrictions can be placed against you once the winds change. This hasn't always been the case, of course. Children are taught in schools that the Pilgrims moved here for religious freedom, but the teachers tend to skip over that executions for religious offenses were common in New England for the next century or so. American Christians now generally view that as unwise/unjustified, and I'd agree. So what is the best way to approach the issue of religious diversity?
    That's not really indigenous beliefs, but importations from Africa. Indigenous religion is protected from evangelization efforts by outsiders (which is why my dad's church supports AMMI, a training center devoted to educating indigenous pastors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I apologize if I hit anybody's paywall. I haven't read a Washington Post article in a long time so I had no problem reading this one...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...rce=reddit.com


    Essentially, armed Pentecostalists have taken it on themselves to rid the country of indigenous religious beliefs by destroying their places of worship. However, it's gone even beyond that; they have killed people, and even stoned children in the process. Apparently some evangelists are targeting gang leaders for conversion, but not imploring them to leave the gang lifestyle, but rather to use their influence to Christian-ize the violence in the inner cities (the Israeli flag has become a gang symbol).

    The article notes that mainstream evangelicals in Brazil are horrified and quotes one evangelist who denounces the violence but supports spiritual warfare.

    I don't *think* anybody here other than maybe a couple people would be in support of the violence so that's not my real topic for discussion. My question is, where do Christians draw the line as far as religious freedom goes? In the Old Testament, when the Jews did have political power, the message was clear that they were not to allow paganism to flourish, and idols were to be destroyed. In the New Testament, when the Christians did *not* have political power, things were different. Paul did not run around smashing all the idols at Mars Hill while he looked at them. I have to admit, though, that I was not outraged like most Westerners were when the Afghanistan government started destroying Buddhist statues. It didn't seem like something Christians should be fighting for.

    In Brazil, Christians *do* have political power. I think American Christians generally recognize that religious freedom is something that can work in your favor, and religious restrictions can be placed against you once the winds change. This hasn't always been the case, of course. Children are taught in schools that the Pilgrims moved here for religious freedom, but the teachers tend to skip over that executions for religious offenses were common in New England for the next century or so. American Christians now generally view that as unwise/unjustified, and I'd agree. So what is the best way to approach the issue of religious diversity?
    “Priests have been killed. Children have been stoned. An elderly woman was seriously injured. Death threats and taunts are common. Gangs are unfurling the flag of Israel, a nation seen by some evangelicals as necessary to bringing about the return of Christ.”


    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.c...40737/%3famp=1

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/cruxn...s-capital/amp/

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.w...outputType=amp

    One might have hoped, that, given the very bad reputation for religiously-sponsored violence that Catholicism has long “enjoyed”, that might have acted on Pentecostals as a solemn warning not to engage in violence themselves. It is very depressing to hear of Evangelical cruelties, on this scale especially.

    This has nothing to do with Christianity, Protestantism, or Pentecostalism: it is a betrayal of all three. This seems grimly appropriate, as a description of a great deal of Christian violence:

    "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”

    https://biblehub.com/john/16-2.htm




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