On Sunday, Brazilians elected their first woman president in what many commentators labeled a mandate to continue the popular policies of outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In her first speech as president-elect, Dilma Rousseff thanked many people but did not thank God—something many voters had expected her to do amid a campaign drenched in outreach to evangelical voters. Dispute over Rousseff's support for same-sex marriage and abortion led both her and defeated candidate Jose Serra to turn to pastor-advisors and Christian outreach committees to gain evangelical sympathy.

But what drew the most attention about evangelical voters came in an earlier round of voting, as nearly 20 million Brazilians cast votes for Marina Silva, a former environment minister and committed Assemblies of God member from a small party with little money. With more than 19 percent of the vote, Silva forced an unexpected runoff between Rousseff and Serra.

The largest private research institute in Brazil, IBOPE, noted that Rousseff lost many votes in the final weeks of the first round because her positions on abortion and homosexuality generated insecurity and dissatisfaction among evangelicals and Catholics, two large groups that are often at odds in the country but rally together on these two themes in political seasons.

However, two leading sociologists of Brazilian Christianity, Paul Freston and Alexandre Brasil Fonseca, argued that there is not as much such cohesion and unity among evangelical voters as some observers presumed. Evangelical voters were also split between Rousseff and Serra. This is especially true of neo-Pentecostals, whose 10 million members often belong to large churches with strong media clout.

The power struggle ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueOur Spiritual Gifts Have an Expiration Date
Our Spiritual Gifts Have an Expiration Date Subscriber Access Only
Let’s rejoice in them—while looking forward to a time when they’re no longer needed.
RecommendedFive Things You Should Know About Reinhold Niebuhr
Five Things You Should Know About Reinhold Niebuhr
From Carter to Comey, the legacy of "Washington's Favorite Theologian" endures.
TrendingISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
ISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
(UPDATED) Egypt cancels Ramadan’s opening celebration as Copts resist revenge.
Editor's PickDo This in Remembrance
Do This in Remembrance
Participating in the “high holy day” of American civil religion is beneficial for Christians, so long as we do so thoughtfully.
Christianity Today
Brazil's Evangelicals Make Voting Bloc Debut
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.