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Brazil’s Evangelicals Take Over While Bolsonaro’s Allies Jump Ship

  • No demographic group compares to evangelical Christians’ rise
  • Municipal elections could put their growing power on display
Supporters pray with President Bolsonaro outside the Palacio do Alvorada in Brasilia on March 17.
Supporters pray with President Bolsonaro outside the Palacio do Alvorada in Brasilia on March 17.Photographer: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images
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When the pandemic began, Brazilian evangelicals put their faith in President Jair Bolsonaro to get them through it. They knelt along city streets, spaced 6 feet apart, fasting and praying for the virus to go away, and gathered to chant their support of his plan to rely on an anti-malarial drug with unproven results. “Chloroquine! Chloroquine! ... I know you can cure me, in the name of Jesus!” they sang in front of the residential palace in May.

That belief in the president’s ability to keep them safe has taken a knock as Brazil’s death count has soared. But evangelicals remain a core pillar of the Bolsonaro administration, increasingly occupying space left by early supporters who have jumped ship.