The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Approximations between Judaism and Evangelicals in the Peripheries in Brazil

Christina Vital - Federal Fluminense University

As of 2018, we began to observe in Brazilian cities a strong public presence of Jewish religious objects and narratives, as well as the flag of Israel. They were present, for example, in political demonstrations, in evangelical services (especially Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal), in soccer stadiums, on walls in favelas in Rio de Janeiro/BR. Many terminologies seek to understand the phenomenon that draws the attention of the media, academia, and society at large. They would be, mainly, Christian Zionism, Mythical Israel, Imaginary Israel, Judaization of Pentecostalism. In this paper I will try to explore some of the meanings produced around Judaism and Christianity in Brazilian suburbs, through its residents. More specifically, I aim to analyze the emergence, diffusion and meanings attributed by local residents to objects, images, paintings and narratives that value conceptions of Judaism in the evangelical milieu in favelas and peripheries in Brazil. The empirical material that will underpin the analyses presented is based on a long-term ethnography conducted in Rio de Janeiro favelas in which the monitoring of images (in the form of murals, graffiti and/or statues of saints, and photographs) made it possible to reflect on social dynamics involving religion and violent criminality. In the 1990s, the images present in the slums favored Catholic saints and entities from Umbanda and Candomblé orixás. In the 2000s a noticeable change was observed with the emergence of biblical passages painted on walls in the slums, mainly from the Old Testament. As of 2010 new images were present with graffiti giving space, mostly, to the presentation of cartoon figures with biblical texts from the new testament and motivational messages. The revisiting the area in 2021 allowed us to verify the erasure of some images and the emergence of simbols of Judaism. The interfaces between religions, politics, and territory and the dynamics that these dimensions simultaneously reveal and operate are the subject of my reflection in several articles and in this paper.