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By ALEXANDRE ARAGÃO DE ALBUQUERQUE*

The use of the Christian religion by Bolsofascism aims to “become one” with the majority of the Brazilian population who declare themselves Christian

Since the book's release Religion in times of Bolsofascism, in the month of September, we had a pleasant surprise with the repercussion achieved through consecutive interviews, through which we had the opportunity to delve deeper into aspects of the aforementioned work. The interviews mainly inquired about the most enlightening analysis, from a chronological perspective, of the discursive production of Bolso-Fascism, in the person of the former President of the Republic, in religious environments, more precisely in those with a Catholic tradition at which I took a detailed look.

French thinker Michel Foucault states that when a discourse is activated, it occurs from historically and geographically situated places. Whoever speaks activates the words that constitute the institutional procedures at stake. Saying and enunciating are acts, events that show an action and a subject.

When seeking to analyze a given speech, it is important to identify what it shows as it happens, seeking to discover the rules of its production so that it can be treated as a field of truth as opposed to what is considered false. After all, there are almost always components of falsehood that can cover up the truth contained in the speech. Finally, it is important to detect the movement of appropriation and involvement of those followers who can expand the circuit and reverberate its content.

Three other very important terms for analyzing a statement are “context”, “ethos” and “discursive scene”. For Michel Foucault, the context surrounds the text because it is also in the head of the person speaking. Thus, the concrete context refers to concrete relationships and not those structural to language. O ethos in turn, it refers to the way of presentation of the person who positions himself as the subject of the speech: the characterization by the surroundings, by the construction of the scenario that outlines the qualities of the person who, when speaking, fits into the position expected and prepared for him. Finally, the discursive scene concerns those productions of scenes in which characters are positioned, with the relationships established between them being highlighted.

In the rule of Bolsofascist discursive ideological production we recurrently find key themes carefully chosen for the manipulation of religious grammar. Among these, we list: fundamentalist recurrence to the Christian faith (God above all) in opposition to a supposed practical and cultural materialism of its opponents; presentation of Bolsofascism as a true representative of traditionalist thought versus views of leftist, globalist, scientific, ecological, gender, ethnic modernity; the systematic and continued use of the controversial stabbing episode, interpreted as a miracle of God, attesting to Jair Bolsonaro as the Myth to guide the nation; the Anointing by religious leaders, identifying him with the Fatherland (Brazil above all) in his sovereign will (“I am the constitution”) versus losing minorities who must submit at any cost to his will as sacred ruler; permanent attacks on the free press versus constant praise for the media groups that support it. In short, a discursive action focused on the I/God/People relationship that would authorize and enable him to authoritatively submit the Homeland, indiscriminately overthrowing democratic normality, according to his personal desires and that's the end of it.

Bolsofascism will draw on the strong influence of Christianity in the formation of Western culture, from the moment it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, under the government of Constantine. In the year 325 AD a truly new event was inaugurated: the holding of the first Ecumenical Council in the history of Christianity. The conciliar bishops were invited by Emperor Constantine, hosted at the imperial summer residence in Nicaea, near Constantinople.

As Brazilian Catholic historian Eduardo Hoonaert points out (Origins of Christianity, Paulus), those men of the people were treated as Senators of the Empire, entitled to military and protocol honors. At this council, the first dogmas (truths of faith that do not need to be demonstrated or proven) of the Christian Religion were formulated. Nicaea speaks defining and grandiloquent words about the carpenter Jesus of Nazareth: God-almighty; God of God; Light of Light; True God from true God. Later, new titles will appear: Santíssima Trindade; Holy Mary; Holy sacrament. From then on, the Catholic Church was filled with sanctities, eminences, excellences and dignities, adopting the pompous, triumphal, superlative and arrogant style of the official Roman language.

It is not just about language, but about the entirety of a new way of inserting the Church into society and people's lives. In architecture and liturgy, in clerical vestments and in the formulation of texts, in the daily life of parishes, in iconography and the arts, in the formation of leadership, in the teaching of morals, in the daily monitoring of people's lives and even in marking times and spaces reveals a Jesus who is in the hands of the institution: “we define him, we speak in his name, we dictate what he has to say”. Jesus of Nazareth is modified and imprisoned by a system of political-religious Power. As Giorgio Agamben attests, it is power that defines what human life is and what it is not. In Bolsofascism, the State of exception becomes the rule, encouraging the manipulation of truth through the media and churches.

The philosopher Manfredo Araújo de Oliveira (Religion in urban and pluralistic society, Paulus) states that the analysis of the religious phenomenon is an essential element for the adequate understanding of late modern societies, as in the Brazilian case, because the religious fact from now on is an essential component of the world political scene. With the privatization of autonomous individuals capable of choosing between different alternatives in the symbolic goods market, it is possible to move between different religious systems, in addition to transposing religion to other sectors of social life such as politics, science, economics or psychology . With the emergence of a culture of the ego, it is not the truth that matters (in fact, scientific or philosophical), but the search for something that can give meaning to individual life, that corresponds to each person's feelings and can satisfy their aspirations. It is not about the believer being faithful to God, but about God being faithful to the believer.

For French philosophers such as Luc Ferry and Marcel Gauchet, as for the sociologist Danièle Hervieu-Lèrger (The pilgrim and the convert, Voices), Religion, understood as the institutional and organized dimension of the religious field, through spaces, times, rites, symbols, doctrines, myths, arts, liturgies, authorities, traditions and communities, consists of a system of symbols that acts to establish powerful, penetrating and lasting dispositions in individuals, acting as a conductor of souls.

A tool invented in a certain time-space, by certain people, to impose their purposes on others, revealing their political character. It is not just about devotion, but about socio-political institutions within which individual biographies are lived. After all, every faith is committed to something, it is important to know what causes it is committed to and to what extent.

From the chronology observed by us in our book, we can briefly record here in this article, the inaugural moments of Bolsofascist discursive ideological production with full support from the leaders and institutions with which it relates.

On November 30, 2018, Bolsonaro makes an official visit, shortly after the results of the second round of the presidential election, to the world headquarters of the Canção Nova Catholic Community, in Cachoeira Paulista. There he is received in the main sanctuary by the Founder, Co-founder and other clergy and lay leaders of this Catholic association. During a blessing broadcast throughout Brazil, the Founder said the following prayer: “Brazil has the president it needed to have. Just like Solomon, may God give him all wisdom.” In response to the prayer given by Monsignor Jonas Abib, Jair Bolsonaro says: “I want to thank you once again for being alive. I was saved [from the stabbing] by the hands of God. I understand what happens to me is a mission from God.”

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, at a dinner at the residence of the Brazilian ambassador in Washington, Sérgio Amaral, with the presence of spokespeople for American conservatism, such as professor Walter Russell Mead, critic Roger Kimball, lobbyist Matt Schlapp and Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist in the victorious 2016 presidential campaign, as well as Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, two of the main guarantors of his election, President Jair Bolsonaro, sworn in less than three months ago he stated in his official speech on that emblematic night: “Brazil is not an open field where we intend to build things for our people. We have to deconstruct a lot of things. Undo a lot of things. God wanted it, I understand it this way, for two miracles to happen: one is my life [saved from the stabbing], the other is my election.” It is attested here that Jair Bolsonaro does not attribute his election to popular sovereignty, but to divine sovereignty. Since then, he has sought to legitimize the destruction that will be perpetrated during his term of office by basing it on the will of God, by virtue of him being a president chosen by God.

On May 21, 2019, the Catholic Parliamentary Front meets at Palácio do Planalto, in Brasília, in a wide articulation of Catholic Marian movements, with the presence of leaders from Catholic Charismatic Renewal, TV Canção Nova, Fazenda Esperança, Rede Vida de Television, among others, to consecrate Brazil to the heart of Our Lady of Fátima. Under the ceremonial regency of federal deputy Eros Biondini (PL-MG), in his official speech, the politician elevates Bolsonaro to the level of São João Paulo II, for having been saved from being stabbed by the hands of Maria.

On June 19, 2019, it is Fazenda Esperança's turn to continue the cycle of religious events anointing Jair Bolsonaro, by welcoming him to its world headquarters located in the municipality of Guaratinguetá. Fazenda Esperança is a religious complex that has more than 100 branches spread across Brazil, in addition to being present in 26 countries. During the four years of Bolsonaro's government, he received around R$101 million in federal funding for his actions as a therapeutic community for drug addicts. In addition to the blessings of the Carmelite nuns, transmitted by Rede Vida de Televisao, in the end, the Founder of Fazenda Esperança, expressed himself in a statement, given to the same television network, as being “a moment of grace, a divine moment”.

Finally, in this brief tour of Jair Bolsonaro's personal meetings with Catholic institutions and leaders, a virtual meeting took place on May 21, 2020, with businesspeople and priests in the field of communication. Two statements about that event are the subject of broad public analysis. Firstly, that of Father Reginaldo Manzotti, who effusively stated: “I would like to approach the Bolsonaro government to present this positive proposal, to really carry out this work and make this agenda echo from the riverside people to the big capitals”. In turn, the CEO of Rede vida, which calls itself the TV of the Pope, João Monteiro de Barros Neto, exclaimed: “We, President Bolsonaro, have a lot in common.”

It is important to note that, in addition to the existence of these conservative Catholic segments functioning as a significant support base for Bolsofascism, there is a significant evangelical-Pentecostal presence acting in concert with Catholics, forming a kind of right-wing consortium, bringing together neoconservative segments of the two Christian traditions: Catholic and evangelical. Emerson Silveira (“Conservative priests in arms”. Reflection, v. 43, no. 2), in an analytical article, records the symbolic call by the reactionary priest Paulo Ricardo de Azevedo Júnior, on the website “The political alliance between Catholics and evangelicals”, with thousands of views, for the achievement of this alliance.

The cleric says: “Today it is not possible to contribute to the good of Brazil without there being a solid alliance between Catholics and Protestants. A den of criminals has got it into its head that it needs to put an end to Judeo-Christian morality. A conservative coalition of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, spiritualists and all men of good will who truly want to preserve the spiritual, moral and legal heritage that forged the West is necessary. It is in the political field that we want to sign this agreement.”

Finally, as Italian journalist Iacopo Scaramuzzi attests, Christianity still presents itself as a strong cultural reference, a language that more or less the majority of Brazilians understand. Most know the day of Jesus' birth, as well as his mother's name and that he died crucified for the salvation of humanity.

Christianity is an identity marker that carries a sense of identity. Thus, the use of the Christian religion by Bolsofascism, by exploring its sacred symbolics, through a well-elaborated and systematized discourse, aims to “become one” with the majority of the Brazilian population who declare themselves Christian (80%), to being able to penetrate their hearts and minds, and politically lead their souls.

*Alexandre Aragão de Albuquerque He holds a master's degree in Public Policy and Society from the State University of Ceará (UECE). Book author Religion in times of Bolsofascism.


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