Evangelical Christians have played an unprecedented role in the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. And one member of his Cabinet has championed the evangelical cause above all the rest: former Minister of Human Rights, Women and Family Damares Alves.
Alves has led a sometimes silent, sometimes vocal campaign to push policy priorities favored by evangelical conservatives.
Alves is a former preacher who, on the day she was sworn in as a Cabinet minister, shared a viral video where she cheers, "Girls wear pink and boys wear blue.”
“This is a secular country,” Alves said during her inauguration speech, “but I am terribly Christian.”
Alves is a lawyer by training. She helped form an anti-abortion group and cut her teeth in politics for 20 years as a congressional adviser. She worked as a political aid to congressmen and senators.
She is also an evangelical pastor — and known for being charismatic and emotional, with a gift for oratory that she inherited from her father, himself a Pentacostal pastor who founded close to 100 churches across Brazil.
Alves transformed the Ministry of Human Rights, Women and Family. She blocked family planning policies, like distributing condoms, and instead, pushed campaigns calling for abstinence until marriage. She’s helped organize local activists to protest against abortion, which is legal in Brazil only in extreme circumstances.
All of this has lifted Alves to stardom among many evangelicals in Brazil.
And she is hoping to cash in on that support, by winning a legislative seat this year.
It's unclear yet, whether she may be aiming for Congress or local office, but with the growing influence of evangelicals across Brazil, and Alves’ image as Bolsonaro’s minister of family values, she has a good chance of getting there.
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