SAO PAULO (RNS) — Adherents of traditional Afro-Brazilian religions are bracing for an escalation in the already high rate of persecution and violent attacks against them as evangelical Christians have become increasingly emboldened after being credited with helping President Jair Bolsonaro’s election last fall.
In a country that is overwhelmingly Christian, less than 1% of Brazilians, or about half a million people, practice Umbanda and Candomblé, the country’s primary religions of African origin. This tiny minority accounts, however, for most of the cases of religious intolerance. In the first six months of 2018, out of 116 reports of discrimination received through a special government telephone line, 72 had Candomblecists and Umbandists as victims.
Attacks can involve assaults or vandalism at places of worship, called terreiros,