Evangelicals, growing force in Brazil, to impact elections

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Source: Associated Press

By MARCELO SILVA DE SOUSA

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a Brazilian presidential election marked by uncertainties, there is little doubt about one thing: Evangelical voters will have a major impact.

They could tip the balance thanks to their growing numbers, presence in remote areas and poor neighborhoods and organizational muscle, especially since corporations have been banned from making contributions directly to candidates in the wake of a the country’s huge corruption scandal.

Attempts to woo evangelicals are apparent on the campaign trail ahead of the Oct. 7 election. In recent weeks, one leading candidate wept while receiving prayers during a service at an evangelical church. Another promised no legislative changes to Brazil’s abortion ban. A third held meetings with several of the most influential pastors in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s richest and most populist state.

“The evangelical vote is very organic in that pastors and bishops have a relationship with followers that influences how they vote,” said Antonio Lavareda, who has written several books on Brazilian politics. “It’s the opposite in the Catholic Church, where, despite having more congregants, priests have less direct influence.”

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