Note from BW of Brazil: This is some unexpected good news! Long overdue but never late than never. In past posts, this blog has tried to alert its readers about the treatment of Afro-Brazilian religions such as the Candomblé for some time. Ever since Africans brought their religions beliefs and practices to the lands that would become Brazil, their spiritual practices have been condemned as the work of the devil, evil, “voodoo” and “macumba”. Millions of Brazilians, usually followings of Christianity, believe that these religious practices shouldn’t exist and have long believed in a long list of negative stereotypes about adherents to these religions.
Religious worship is yet another area that Brazil has long wanted to destroy in its centuries long goal of the stomping out of all things that connect Brazilian society to its African heritage. And one of the leaders in the demonizing of African origin religions has been the Rede Record television network and its owner Edir Macedo, who is also the founder of the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), “one of the largest evangelical denominations in Brazil, with a community of over 1.8 million people (IBGE, 2010), over 5 thousand temples, 10 thousand pastors and communities in over 200 countries.” In 2013, Macedo was listed as Brazil’s richest pastor and a biopic about his life, Nada de Perder, is currently playing in Brazilian movie theaters. Having raked in over R$ 72.8 million, it is already Brazil’s third highest grossing film of the year. Macedo’s books have sold over 10 million copies and his blog attracts over 4 million visitors per year. With such enormous influence, one can imagine that this man could single handedly influence millions of people to either love something or despise it. Guess which side Macedo is on…
Historically, Brazil has long been the world’s largest Catholic country, but with declining numbers in the Catholic Church, the Evangelical movement has emerged as the the fastest growing denomination in the country. From 1970 to today, the number of Brazilians defining themselves as Catholics has declined from 90% to about 50%, while the Evangelical membership has swollen from about 5% to about 30%. Macedo’s enormous church (Templo de Salomão or Temple of Solomon) is one of the leaders of the charge and one of his platforms has been to use his leadership in the church and the nation’s third largest TV network to present sensationalist, negative depictions of Afro-Brazilians in not only church ceremonies, but also in the television programs. Evangelical churches such as Macedo’s Templo have been at the center of controversy by divulging the idea that they can “expel” demons and in 2005, Macedo’s book Orixás, Caboclos e Guias – Deuses ou demônios was prohibited from sale due to prejudiced content against Afro-Brazilian religions.
In recent years, many have pointed to the content and acts by Macedo, Record and other Evangelical churches for inciting violence against Afro-Brazilian houses of worships by zealous followers. In recent years, these violent attacks have seen an upsurge as many Afro-Brazilian spiritual leaders have been terrorized by Evangelical drug dealers and other “Jesus warriors” who have invaded, burned down or destroyed spiritual temples and artifacts used for Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies. For these reasons, a recent decision obligating Rede Record to broadcast positive programs about Afro-Brazilian religions should be considered a victory. I will present a follow up on this report in a coming post, but for now, here is a short write up on a recent decision.
African Matrix Populations unanimously take action against Rede Record
By Márcia Torres
Rede Record TV has lost an appeal in the Federal Court of São Paulo and will be forced to display 16 hours during its programming broadcast for 16 days, with positive and affirmative content on Culture and Religions of African origin, at prime times, made by entities linked to religions of African matrix.
The decision unanimously came by the 9th Panel of the Federal Regional Court of São Paulo, Thursday, April 5th. The lawsuit, filed by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, followed a lawsuit filed in 2004 by the Regional Attorney for Citizens’ Rights in São Paulo, together with the Centro de Estudos das Relações de Trabalho e da Desigualdade (CEERT or Center for Studies on Labor Relations and Inequality) and the Instituto Nacional de Tradição e Cultura Afro Brasileira (Intercab or National Institute of Tradition and Culture Afro-Brazilian).
The lawyers of the entities representing the religions of African origin are: Hédio Silva, Jader Freire Macedo Júnior and Antônio Basílio Filho. According to Hédio, who has been working for rights on behalf of rights of the black race for 30 years, the Brazilian Telecommunications Code foresees the abuse of freedom of Radio Broadcasting. “It was a victory for citizenship, a victory for democracy, for the democratic rule of law. You cannot use broadcasting to spread hate, intolerance, discrimination. Inciting Brazilians to attack other Brazilians because of their belief or because of their disbelief.”
For Ivanir dos Santos, interlocutor of the Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance, the victory comes precisely at a time when society is going through situations that are still very delicate. “Our struggle continues, we need to increasingly see our victories before the processes of religious intolerance, especially when these actions happen by means of the media, whether radio or television, because they give force and propagate actions and acts of intolerance of the country,” he says.
The authors affirmed in the action that the Afro-Brazilian religions “suffer constant aggressions” in programs transmitted on Record. The Federal Constitution prohibits the demonization of religions by adherents of other beliefs. The authors cited offenses conveyed in the “Mistérios” (Mysteries) during the block “Sessão de descarrego” and in Edir Macedo’s book Orixás, Caboclos e Tabias, Deuses or Demônios. The first-instance decision was upheld, which had already determined the broadcast of one-hour programs and should be recorded inside the station’s own studio.
Source: Mundo Negro