Christian Zionism Takes Root in Latin America | Sojourners

Christian Zionism Takes Root in Latin America

The political Zionist movement has little to do with Christianity — and it’s a threat to both democracy and religious freedom.
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IN LATE MARCH, when Far Right former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro returned from self-imposed exile, supporters greeted him with chants of “God, family, and liberty,” harkening back to the motto of the dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Overwhelming political support from evangelical Christians — similar to that received by Donald Trump — had swept Bolsonaro into office in 2018. Both men repaid this support by moving their respective embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, actions that were long sought by conservative Christians in the West, signaling a rejection of Palestinian aspirations for independence.

Brazil is only one of the countries in Latin America where right-wing evangelical Christians have become a political force. Today, evangelicals constitute about 27 percent of Brazil’s population, compared to about 25 percent in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. As the number of Latin American evangelicals has soared in recent years, Christian Zionism has also risen as a political and cultural force in the region.

Christian Zionists believe that support for the modern secular state of Israel is a scriptural obligation with theological ramifications for the “end times.” Too often Christian Zionists defend Israel while perpetuating Christian supremacy and antisemitism; they remain ignorant of the persecution of Jews throughout history. Adopting uncritical, religiously motivated support for the secular state of Israel, Christian Zionists provide cover for Israel’s internationally recognized human rights abuses against Palestinians. The embrace of Christian Zionism threatens to be as damaging to marginalized communities in Latin America as it has been to Palestinians.

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