RIO DE JANEIRO — At an evangelical church in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday morning, much of the congregation was dressed in green and yellow, the colors of the Brazilian flag and a traditional sign of support for President Jair Bolsonaro.
Pastor Silas Malafaia, the leader of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ evangelical church, made events announcements and the staff collected donations. Then he started to preach.
“I’ve always said that the church doesn’t vote or support anyone,” he said. “But I can, you as a citizen of a country can, and us who are part of a group and have shared beliefs can support someone.”
Mr. Malafaia was careful not to deliberately mention Mr. Bolsonaro’s name in his sermon, but his green and yellow shirt clearly indicated his support for the far-right president.
Evangelicals, who make up more than 30 percent of Brazilian population, strongly backed Mr. Bolsonaro in 2018, and in the first round of the 2022 elections. Polls suggested at least 60 percent of them would support President Jair Bolsonaro in Sunday’s runoff. Many preachers used their pulpit to influence their congregants to vote for the Brazilian leader.
Mr. Malafaia spoke for another 25 minutes, repeating several of Mr. Bolsonaro’s usual lines: critiques of the media, warnings that communists and “esquerdopatas” — an informal word combining “leftist” and “sociopath” in Portuguese — were a threat to school children and doubt over the security of Brazil’s electoral system.
“If hackers invade the most secure system in the world, which is the Pentagon’s, why can’t they hack the system that controls Brazil’s elections?” Mr. Malafaia said, asking people to stand up, hold hands and pray together against electoral fraud.
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