RIO DE JANEIRO — It’s a new (very scary) day in this coastal city, famous the world over for its beaches and parties. The cidade maravilhosa has just elected its next mayor in the form of Marcelo Crivella, an evangelical bishop and gospel singer.
The third time was the charm for 59-year-old senator and member of the Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), who, after two previous unsuccessful runs for Rio’s mayoral office in 2004 and 2008, defeated his leftist opponent Marcelo Freixo with 59 percent of the vote in yesterday’s run-off. In addition to his political career, Crivella is an ordained bishop for the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an evangelical church founded by his billionaire uncle Edir Macedo.
Brazil is still a majority Catholic country, but don’t count Crivella and his followers as a fringe movement. Evangelism is taking hold across the country — and fast. The so-called “bible bloc” of evangelicals holds 199 of 513 seats in Brazil’s Lower House of Congress and teamed up with other conservative caucuses to help oust Dilma Rousseff earlier this year. Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of Brazil’s lower house who led much of the impeachment charges against Dilma and was recently arrested on corruption charges himself, is also a prominent evangelical. Crivella’s victory comes amid a rightward shift in Brazil as workers are punishing the Workers’ Party (PT) at the polls.
During the campaign, Crivella has vowed he would rule Rio de Janeiro for its residents, not for the church. But as bishop he still holds (or at least held) plenty of views many would consider far from the mainstream. So what is one to believe? Not in evolution at least.
Crivella will be sworn into office on January 1, succeeding Eduardo Paes. Until then, here’s a primer on some of his more, should we say, unorthodox beliefs.
Unsuccessful abortion attempts lead to homosexuality
In a video from 2012 that has since been deleted, Crivella preached to his congregation that gay people deserved compassion. Sounds like an unobjectionable principle until he explains why: homosexuality is a result of suffering in the womb, specifically the kind of suffering that results from unsuccessful abortions. Crivella went on to compare their suffering to that of children born into poverty in favelas who, like gay children, are born into desperation after their mothers have tried to abort them.
Women should be more obedient towards men
Shortly before the run-off, a video made the rounds on social media in which Crivella, preaching to his congregation, says women should be more obedient to men. And why is this? Because women are but a portion of men’s ribs, of course. For his part, Crivella claims he is not machista, citing his two daughters and 36-year marriage to a woman as evidence. He has lady friends, you see, and therefore cannot be sexist.
Evolution is a theory not accepted by the wider scientific community
Speaking before the Senate in 2009, Crivella claimed the concept of evolution is still just a “theory” unsupported by the scientific community at large unlike other “laws” of science. If it were to be believed we would have stopped calling it a theory a long time ago, he says. Well, that’s one (incredibly wrong!) way of looking at it.
Catholics follow demonic doctrines
In his 1999 book Evangelizing Africa, Crivella details the 10 years he spent spreading Christianity across the continent. The book is out of print according to its publishers, but a Globo report details many of the book’s rather radical viewpoints. Crivella criticizes many religions, chief among them Catholicism, which he claims tricks its followers into praying to false idols and “demonic doctrines.” However, in his acceptance speech on Sunday, Crivella thanked the Catholic Church for its support. Hmmm, wonder what Pope Francis makes of all this.
Hindus sacrifice children
No religion is safe in Crivella’s Evangelizing Africa. There, he also claims that Hinduism promotes sacrificing innocent children to obtain wealth. Crivella is apparently quite familiar with this practice, as he says cutting the top part of the victim’s head is the required methodology. He also cautions Christians against marrying Hindus, lest they be infected with their evil spirits.
His previous words were the views of an immature 42-year-old
Crivella’s book on his evangelical activity in Africa has rightfully generated plenty of controversy, but he has tried to distance himself from its content by claiming the words were written by a young and naïve pastor. He was only 42 when he wrote it after all. Or, as he, put it nothing but a “rapazinho.”