At the beginning of this month, Brazil inaugurated its new National Congress. With President Jair Bolsonaro (below) now at the helm, it’s a conservative government that resembles an even worse version of Republican dominance in every branch of our country. There was no shortage of warnings about the problems that would occur if Bolsonaro was elected, and when he finally had the opportunity, he went after descendants of slavery, LGBTQ people, and indigenous groups.
It’s exactly what’d you’d expect from a government that broadcasts its Christianity.
What hasn’t received much global coverage are the religion-related bills that could eventually get to Bolsonaro’s desk. In many ways, they resemble Project Blitz, the Religious Right’s campaign to use the U.S. government to advance their faith. Making matters worse for those of use who prefer a separation of church and state, there’s a system in Brazil that allows old bills to essentially get resurrected by their sponsors even if they didn’t become laws in the past. By “dearchiving” those bills — they use the word “desarquivamento” — it allows legislators to leapfrog some of the bureaucratic hurdles that might arise by starting from scratch.
If you look at which bills are getting dearchived with this new government, you get a sense of what they intend to do with their power. Reader Max provided me with a helpful list of bills that have recently been pulled out of their graves, along with some useful summaries.
PL 8099, first introduced in 2014 by pastor and Congressman Marco Feliciano, would push Creationism into the public schools.
Excerpt of justification: “Children attending public schools get confused because they learn notions of evolution in school, and in the church they learn about Creationism, in conflict with academic concepts. Teaching only EVOLUTIONISM in schools is against the freedom of belief of our people, since the CREATIONIST doctrine is the predominant in all our country.”
PL 9164, first introduced in 2017 by Congressman Cape Daciolo, would require the “study of the Holy Bible” to be taught in primary and secondary schools.
This bill aims to stimulate the reading of young students as well as how to take them to the universe of stories and lessons about life, moral dilemmas and ethical issues addressed by the Holy Bible so that they have a point of reference in helping them meet their challenges and decisions.
PL 10529, first introduced in 2018 by pastor and Congressman Hidekazu Takayama, would allow prisoners to reduce their time behind bars if they read the Bible. As it stands, 30 days of general reading cuts 4 days off your sentence. With this bill, 30 days of reading the Bible would cut 5 days off your sentence.
Excerpt of justification: “The Bible is the greatest bestseller in the history of mankind and is an intrinsic part of Theology. For better understanding by the inmate, this book must be separated for purposes of sentence reduction, since Bible study can take years. Also, the Bible has the ability to promote self-reflection and a re-evaluation and redirection of values.“
PL 181, first introduced in 2015 by Congressman Fausto Ruy Pinato, would exempt religious temples from paying production and import taxes for construction material, because churches are tax exempt already and they’re contributing to religious tourism in the country. Essentially, because it’s a church buying the products, they shouldn’t have to pay taxes on them.
Excerpt of justification: “The Constitution ensures freedom of religious belief and forbids taxes on temples… There is no way to dissociate one from the other; the material used in the construction of the temple, as well as the works and objects that will be used in the decoration are integral parts of the temple that, in turn, is tax exempt.”
PL 5167, first introduced in 2009 by Congressman Captain Assumção, would ban same-sex marriage (which is currently legal).
“Brazil, since its constitution and as a Christian nation, while obeying the principle of secularity, maintains, in the Constitution and in the laws, the values of the family, derived from the culture of its people and the Natural Law… After the legal defense, we began to defend the Christian Values, since the authors represent the Catholic and evangelicals, respectively. We firmly believe that God created us and designated marriage and the family as the most fundamental of human relationships. In today’s world, as in the past, families are targeted by those who struggle against Christian values… God approved of sexual relations within marriage, but same-sex relationships are absolutely forbidden by God…
“God did not create Adam and another Adam, He made Eve as [a] suitable partner for him. Evolutionists, cynics, and materialists can always argue that the biblical text is merely symbolic, an allegory about the origin of the human species. Even so, the symbology is clear: the species originated, and can only continue, in the connection between a man and a woman.”
One final resurrected bill is PRC 156, introduced by Bolsonaro himself in 2009. It would maintain a large crucifix on the main wall of the House chambers. Because, as the bill stated, “human values such as ethics, morals, solidarity, honesty, fidelity, [and] gratitude… [are] being gradually destroyed.”
This is what the new government hopes to pass — and likely will — now that there’s a leader who values religion over what’s best for a diverse nation… and wants to appease his base so he can maintain power.
Where have we seen that before?