Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent


Election of pro-family Evangelical to human rights post has Brazilian leftists up in arms

Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

BRASILIA, April 19, 2013 ( - Brazilian leftists are up in arms over the appointment of a pro-life and pro-family Evangelical pastor to the presidency of the national Chamber of Deputies' Human Rights Committee, a coveted post normally occupied by liberals who sympathize with the homosexual political agenda.

Marco Feliciano, a bombastic Pentecostal minister who is also an elected representative in the Chamber of Deputies, has never hidden his rejection of homosexual "marriage" and his beliefs condemning homosexual behavior.

He has not sought to distance himself from his views since his election to the committee presidency on March 7, despite an intense and relentless campaign of media attacks and protests organized by homosexual activists.

"My position is the same as always," Feliciano told reporters on the day of his election to the post. "Marriage is between a man and a woman, that's my position. Insofar as we're working here [in the Congress], these are not issues about religion, they're issues regarding the Constitution. The federal Constitution...still affirms marriage between a man and a woman."

Relentless attacks

As a result of his uncompromising stance on the issue, the Human Rights Committee's meetings have been disrupted repeatedly by homosexual activists, and it has been forced to conduct its business in private.

Feliciano also claims that protesters recently attempted to enter a church where he was preaching in order to attack him. He states that he has collected a large file of threats made against him on the internet, which he intends to give to federal prosecutors.

The Brazilian media has sought to ridicule and discredit Feliciano, who has a long record of making questionable and awkward assertions as a preacher. Felicano has fulminated against the Catholic faith, and claims that the death of John Lennon was decreed by God as retribution for his atheistic thinking. The media has also made hay about negative remarks he has made about the continent of Africa, whose maladies he attributes to paganism.

In response to his appointment, liberal parliamentarians have begun the creation of a Parliamentary Front in Defense of Human Rights to counteract Feliciano's support base, the Evangelical Parliamentary Front, one of the most powerful blocs in the Brazilian national congress.

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Jean Wyllys, a homosexual representative in the Chamber of Deputies, has joined two other deputies to file criminal complaints against Feliciano for internet defamation and for hiring members of his church for work in the congress without the proper vetting process.

Feliciano's presidency has also been rejected by some Evangelicals, who worry that his uncomprimising stances will discredit their religion with the Brazilian public, and accuse the self-promoting minister of using the controversy to generate free publicity for himself.

A group of more than 150 Protestant ministers has issued a call for Feliciano's replacement. However, one of the nation's most popular televangelists, Silas Malafaia, is supportive of Felicano, and is organizing a march in the nation's capital to support "the traditional family, life, and freedom of expression and of religion," to be held on June 5.

Feliciano victorious?

Although the brouhaha over Feliciano's selection initially created momentum to remove the deputy from his position, Felicano has defended himself with vigor, unabashedly portraying himself as a victim of anti-Christian hostility and even comparing his sufferings to those of Christ. The resulting backlash from Evangelicals has bolstered Felicano's position, which is increasingly seen as secure. There is now talk of making him the nominee of his Christian Social Party in the 2014 presidential elections.

The victory of Marco Feliciano is a sign of the growing influence of evangelicalism in Brazilian life, as well as of the leadership position that evangelical ministers have taken in the battle for the family and the right to life, filling a vacuum left by Catholic bishops who are generally perceived as having abandoned the field in favor of a socialist economic agenda.

It also reflects the strongly pro-family and pro-life positions of Brazilians in general. A 2010 opinion poll found that 72 percent of Brazilians oppose the decriminalization of abortion, and 60 percent oppose even the creation of "civil unions" for homosexuals."

The issue became a major one in the 2010 presidential election, in which the front runner, Dilma Rousseff, began to see her lead erode as her previous pro-abortion and homosexualist positions were exposed by both Evangelicals and Catholics.

As a result, now-president Rousseff signed a pledge not to introduce anti-life or anti-family legislation, and legislators fled from the ruling Worker's Party's liberal social agenda, with a majority of respondents telling pollsters that they opposed decriminalization of abortion.

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