With Damares, Senate creates evangelical bench and targets Lula – 03/15/2023 – Politics
This Wednesday (15th) the Federal Senate should install its own evangelical bench, with the promise of trying to stop the legalization of gambling and face guidelines that could expand access to abortion or the decriminalization of drugs.
Approved by the plenary of the House last year, the Evangelical Parliamentary Front brings together some of the main names in Bolsonarism, such as former Minister of Women Damares Alves (Republicanos-DF), former Secretary of Fisheries Jorge Seif (PL-SC) and Flávio Bolsonaro (PL-RJ).
In all, 15 senators should join the evangelical bench. Despite its name, the group has received support from conservative parliamentarians of other religions, such as the newly elected and Catholic Cleitinho (Republicanos-MG).
“[O objetivo é] strengthen the evangelical bench on these agendas that conservatives are against, such as gender ideology, drug legalization, this issue of abortion. It is to strengthen the evangelical bench so that, when these guidelines are in place, we can block it,” said Cleitinho.
The opinion is shared by senator Eduardo Girão (Novo-CE), who is a Spiritist. Girão claims that the parliamentary front “transcends the evangelical issue”, and says that it is important for senators to exchange information on “values and principles”.
“It’s a Christian front that defends freedom of worship, religious freedom. And that’s very important, especially now that the threats to allow abortion, marijuana, gender ideology are back,” he says.
The evangelical bloc expanded its influence during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and is now the most articulated religious bloc in Congress.
Even bringing together parliamentarians from both Houses, senators complain about the protagonism of the Chamber of Deputies and say that many projects of interest to the group end up blocked or modified when they reach the Senate.
Former leader of the bench, federal deputy Sóstenes Cavalcante (PL-RJ) sees the initiative of the Senate as “reinforcement of the strategy”. “[A ideia é] reinforce the legislative work of resistance in the Senate”, he says.
The Senate’s evangelical group is also responding to what the group calls “threats” from the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT). During the pre-campaign, Lula defended that abortion be seen as a public health issue.
The statement, however, ended up being used by opponents and led the PT to record a video to say that he was “in favor of life” and against abortion. “Not only am I against abortion, every woman I’ve married is against abortion,” he said.
Senator Carlos Viana (Podemos-MG) —who articulated the creation of the front and should chair the group— claims that the release of abortion, drugs and gambling are themes that “are being much discussed in Brazil today”.
“The PT does not make an official defense of abortion, but the Minister of Health has already said that it can be legalized. And this is often not done by law, by vote. This is done in commissions. It comes as ordinances”, he says. .
“So we are aware of that, not allowing us to create other possibilities. In our view, the law that is in vogue is already enough”, adds Viana, guaranteeing that his intention is not to revert rights that have already been conquered.
The senator also claims that the bench’s main proposal is to guarantee “religious freedom in Brazil”, and that the group will defend the interests of all religions —including those of African origin—, and not just evangelicals.
Contrary to what Viana says, however, the Minister of Women, Aparecida Gonçalves, told Sheet in January that, with the current Senate, women will “lose more than advance”, if abortion is put up for discussion by the government.
The statement led the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), to state that there was never in the House the “minimum consideration of retrogression in the legal hypotheses” referring to abortion, and that the ministry should stop prejudging Congress.
The offensive against abortion, however, also finds support in the Chamber of Deputies. A Sheet the leader of the evangelical bench, Eli Borges (PL-TO), defended removing the right to abortion in cases of rape, which is now provided for by law.
The Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, and other secretaries of the ministry have defended that the cases in which abortion is allowed by Brazilian legislation should not be treated as taboo in the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde).
Three senators from Lula’s base parties are also part of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front: Eliziane Gama (PSD-MA), who is evangelical, Jorge Kajuru (PSB-GO) and Soraya Thronicke (União Brasil-MS), who are Catholic.
The list is completed by senators Alan Rick (União-AC), Magno Malta (PL-ES), Marcos do Val (Podemos-ES), Mecias de Jesus (Republicanos-RR), Rogério Marinho (PL-RN) and Zequinha Marinho ( PL-PA).