Brazil's Evangelicals attract the Poor, and their Money

Uploaded by TheVJMovement on 13.04.2011

Every Sunday after service, the Evangelical group
from the Tabernacle of Christ Church
hits the slum of Rocinha to spread the word,
share the love and recruit new members.
Maybe you came here this afternoon because you lost your house,
you are walking around saddened by something that happened.
I have something to say to you in the name of Jesus:
God has the power to give you everything that you lost. Amen.
But hear this, it is necessary for you to convert.
Brazil is the biggest Catholic nation in the world.
But over the last 20 years, millions of Catholics,
primarily from working-class communities,
have converted to Evangelism.
I didn't manage to finish my first communion.
I slowly started breaking away, and the reason was,
well, I didn't identify with it.
Statistics reinforce the obvious drop in Catholic popularity.
In two decades, they've gone from representing
91% of the population to 73.8%.
The recent sex scandals in the Catholic Church
are just the latest blow.
Many Catholics became frustrated with things like pedophilia,
with all the distortions, with all the things that seem forced.
It's something that's like ... I think you could describe it
a little bit like a lack of ...
Besides the recent sex scandals, many converts express disenchantment
with the rituals and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Catholics have this thing with images, obviously it's their belief.
But we don't worship images, only God.
We only worship one God.
And it's like the old saying, "If you know the president,
and you can go directly to him, why go to the subordinates?"
Now, one in six Brazilians is Evangelical.
The movement has suffered its own share of scandals.
In 2009 the founder of the Igreja Universal,
Brazil's biggest evangelical church,
was charged, along with nine other members, with stealing and laundering
more than U.S.$2 billion in church donations.
Recently, videos leaked showing other high-ranking priests
from the same church demanding alliance with drug bandits.
Our problem is not bandits.
Our problem is the police.
Don't repeat this to anybody.
The clever use of PR and marketing reinforces a pristine image
while serving to recruit new members.
There are more and more Evangelical stations on TV,
in the media and on the Internet.
And there you've got people talking all the time
about how their lives improved,
so this encourages other people to go and find out what it's about.
The Igreja Universal not only owns one of the country's main TV networks,
but has the power to pull off mega-events like D-Day,
which mobilized 8 million Brazilians
from across the country in miraculous healing, shutting down Rio.
Naya is a former usher from an evangelical prosperity church.
They go there thinking that God is going to open the doors for them,
that God is going to show them a better life,
and this is how the Evangelical Church is growing,
because this is what they preach.
I was born again, and born for Christ.
And today thanks, to God and also Christ, my life has changed.
There was a huge jump in my spiritual life, my family life
and so many victories from God, after I truly knew Jesus.
Membership is not free, and converts are expected to make significant
donations to the church, usually a minimum of 10% of their salary,
regardless of their personal financial circumstances.
They launch a campaign:
the greater the offering, the greater the blessing from God.
I knew a woman who told me that her parents lost their house,
because they gave their house as an offering.
And they ended up with neither the blessing nor the house.
There is no doubt that among Brazil's poor,
the Evangelicals edged-out the Catholics,
and hit a nerve that goes deeper than catchy tunes and theatrics.
To an outsider, this may look like the indoctrination
of an abandoned segment of the population.
But to others, this might just be the stuff of miracles.