Religion and gay rights take center stage in Brazil elections

September 4, 2014

Mauricio Savarese – RT, 09/04/2014

Three weeks ago the 2014 Brazilian presidential elections were set to be the most boring ever. It has all changed since centrist candidate Eduardo Campos died in a plane crash and was replaced by environmentalist Marina Silva, who is now seen as the favorite to win.

Polls suggest incumbent Dilma Rousseff would lose to her in a likely runoff by 10 points. It is even worse for the opposition’s Aecio Neves, who is almost 20 points behind for the first vote on October 5th. It is so shocking that the talk about the economy and political support is insufficient to affect the newcomer.

That is probably why the focus of the campaign has shifted towards the role of religion and gay rights. All three candidates are doing their best in these two topics to score some points with undecided voters – and that means to be considerate to religious leaders and homosexual activists. It is clearly a difficult task, since most religious leaders in Brazil are much more conservative than Pope Francis, and gay movements are very vocal against their critics. Brazil is the nation with the most Catholics on Earth – about 70 percent of its 200 million inhabitants – and presidential hopefuls with a decent shot are always religious (or say they are).

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Girls From Brazil’s Slums Find Escape In Ballet

August 25, 2014

AP – Fox News Latino, 8/25/2014

Past the graffiti-covered overpass and subway tracks, in a slum penned in by high-rises, 8-year-old Gabriela Aparecida fixes her curly hair into a bun as she waits for a ride to her new favorite activity: ballet. Peeling back the tarp over the doorway, the skinny girl reaches out into the dirt alleyway to hug the church volunteer arriving to take her to dance class.

Growing up amid drug dealers and addicts, Gabriela has yet to learn how to read. Yet she and other girls from a rough neighborhood known as a “cracolandia,” or crackland, are learning the graceful art courtesy of a local church group that also offers them food, counseling and Bible studies. The class is among several groups where young dancers hope to catch the eye of a respected Brazilian ballerina who recruits dozens of disadvantaged girls for an annual workshop.

Twice a week, more than 20 girls, ages 5 through 12, board a Volkswagen van for a 10-minute ride to class, where they put on pink or black tights and ballet shoes donated by a dancewear store.

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Despite Brazil’s AIDS Efforts, HIV Infections Rise

August 11, 2014

Fox News Latino, 8/9/2014

The devastating news didn’t make sense to Brazilian Pierre Freitaz. How was it possible that, at age 17, he was infected with HIV if his only boyfriend seemed fit and healthy?

Freitaz confesses he knew little about the virus when he was diagnosed in 2004. He didn’t understand the difference between the infection and the disease it caused: AIDS. He was confused by the lack of obvious symptoms.

“It’s like I was living in a different part of the world, and I felt immune.”

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As Evangelical Clout Grows, Brazil May Face New Culture Wars

August 1, 2014

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – GPB News, 8/1/2014

Everaldo Dias Pereira known to his flock as Pastor Everaldo shakes the hands of potential voters at a shopping mall in a suburb of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

As he wishes them the peace of the Lord, a group of supporters shout out: “Enough of corruption, enough of people who don’t know the word of God. We want Pastor Everaldo.”

The pastor is running for president, and even though it is unlikely he will win polls show he only has 3 percent of the vote his socially conservative message resonates among many of the evangelical faithful.

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Temple in Brazil Appeals to a Surge in Evangelicals

July 25, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 7/24/2014

It occupies an entire block in this teeming megacity: a 10,000-seat rendition of Solomon’s Temple.

Towering in sharp relief against the graffiti-splattered tenements nearby, it beckons with monumental walls of stone imported from Israel and the flags of the dozens of countries where its owner, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is nourishing an evangelical Christian empire.

A helicopter landing pad will allow Edir Macedo, the 69-year-old media magnate who founded the Universal Church in a Rio de Janeiro funeral home in 1977, to drop in for sermons. The sprawling 11-story complex features other flourishes, too, like an oasis of olive trees similar to the garden of Gethsemane near Jerusalem, and more than 30 columns soaring toward the heavens.

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