The Market of Faith

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By ALEXANDRE ARAGÃO DE ALBUQUERQUE*

The political organism, by using religion as a form of popular domination, becomes capable of leading the people to fear the disobedience of the State as if it were an offense to God

the theatrical play between four walls, by the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, places three characters living together in a closed environment, without mirrors. The only image you can get of yourself are the reflections in the eyes of others. The plot develops in this triangle of fierce dispute between the characters for the composition of a partnership that is capable of destroying the third party, isolating him. Condemned to a common life with completely different identities, habits and social standards, these characters live the contradiction of selling an image very different from what they are in reality. As was the case with Garcin, a writer who manifests to others his image of a hero and pacifist, when in fact he had committed crimes in addition to being a great coward.

Yesterday, June 06, the mainstream media and social networks circulated a videoconference held on May 21 between Bolsonaro and the owners – priests and laypeople – of Catholic television stations. It was a business meeting, *in no way republican*, where priests and lay entrepreneurs offered the power of “a positive media for the Bolsonaro government”, as expressed by Father Reginaldo Manzotti in his speech, in exchange for government investment in their companies. Dialectically, despite all the evil that covid-19 has punished our Brazilian families, due to social distancing, it makes it possible for us to have access to recorded content of facts that we were prevented from witnessing in the past, such as this mamata pleaded by business priests.

As in Sartre's play, between Bolsonaro and the Priests are Pastors (neo-Pentecostals), all disputing the Market of Faith. The religious organization that most elected parliamentarians in 2018 was the Assembly of God, with Universal in second place. This is one of the largest religious companies in the country, possibly the most representative Brazilian neo-Pentecostal group, with 6.000 temples and a few million engaged believers spread throughout Brazil. One of the internationalization arms of this organization is TV Record, whose CEO is Renato Cardoso, son-in-law of the president of the Universal Group, Edir Macedo. In his fight against a free press, Bolsonaro knows the strategic importance of having a venal media in his hands, linked to his Power project, producing a positive image of his government in exchange for the God of Money.

The Italian political thinker Niccolò Machiavelli, in his meticulous study of ecclesiastical principalities and hereditary principalities, had already detected that the objective of every Prince (Government) is to reduce his people to obedience. In his “Discourses” (published in 1531), he analyzes Religion as an effective tool of domination, exploring it based on its practical effects of awakening the FEAR and LOVE of citizens in relation to the heads of State and the status quo. For the thinker, religion teaches to respect and obey political rules from religious teaching, assuming both the coercive procedure of discipline and military hierarchy, and the persuasive character of civic pedagogical conditioning for the production of a single thought.

The political organism, by using religion as a form of popular domination, becomes capable of leading the people to fear the disobedience of the State as if it were an offense against God, since the divine command contains a greater effectiveness to submit the humans. With the use of religion, the dominant minority achieves the necessary obedience, guaranteeing the political community cohesion and duration, because religion is based on the FEAR OF GOD. Therefore, while for the dominant minority religion is a political instrument, an efficient means of submitting the dominated to obedience, for the majority of believers it represents and contains the SACRED FEAR that makes them respect legal precepts - social security reform, labor reform, child labor, salute to the American flag, liberation of armed violence, omission of covid-19 data, etc. – as if they were divine commandments.

As Machiavelli said, religion is the useful passion that exists to feed civil love for the State, but it does not represent a true patrimony. Between truth and religion there is no common measure. Dominators and dominated know religion differently: for the Prince it is only useful; for the People it means the externalization of a divine command.

From now on, it will be very interesting to observe how Reginaldo Manzotti, Rede Vida and other Catholic media personalities will behave, for example, in their liturgical celebrations as well as in their daily teachings on the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. After all, they will be openly supporting a Myth instead of the Truth. By definition, myth is an illusion, an idol, a golden calf; in this case, a very strategic and profitable illusion for Catholic coffers. Let Judas Iscariot say so.

*Alexandre Aragão de Albuquerque Master in Public Policy and Society from the State University of Ceará (UECE).

 

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