Cara Família (a letter to my dear ones in Brasil)

Good morning, family.

I feel a little bit strange doing this — inserting myself into the conversation on the eve of the Brazilian elections, in Portuguese, no less. I don’t live in Brazil, not yet. My political views are probably to the left of many of you, and I know that’s a bad word in a lot your houses. :) What could an American know about the politics of Brazil? Perhaps not much.

But, I am your family, and your brother in Christ, and I love each of you so much. So, humbly, I need to send you this letter.

I live in a country that has been walking for 2 years down this road you are considering. I am speaking, of course, about Bolsonaro, “Brazil’s Trump”. I’m not here to talk to you today about politics, about left or right or PT or PSL which person or party you should vote for. You know what’s best for your country. But I do want to talk about Bolsonaro.

First things first: I get it. The economy is terrible. You have lost the dignity you once had, when you could work hard and get paid well; provide for your families, maybe even have a bit to spare. Your leaders are corrupt. They have been giving money to a) themselves, or b) people that maybe don’t deserve it, so they can stay in power — and none of this benefits most Brazilians, who are working themselves to death (if they can find work to do). Modern life is taking its toll on families, too. I imagine you’re worried about what place the Word of God has in the mind of the public, in the halls of leadership. So, I don’t think poorly at all of you for wanting a change.

But, friends & cousins, tios & tias, family: We’ve seen this movie before, here, agora. It’s still playing.

I can imagine all the things everything is saying about Bolsonaro, because I heard all these things about Trump:

– “He says crazy things! But it’s just for effect. He’s not serious.”

– “He speaks directly. He says what no one else has the courage to say.”

– “No, he’s not righteous. But he says the name of Jesus. Besides, I don’t need him to be good; I need him to run the country like a business.”

– “The Bible is full of stories where God used wicked men to His work.”

I don’t know how to say this strongly enough:

Bolsonaro, just like Trump, is a man of violence. He will do anything — lie, manipulate, break laws, humiliate people, for one purpose: to consolidate his own power.

He says crazy things?

I promise: every crazy thing Bolsonaro has said? About shutting down the congress, about raping women or exiling black people, torture, rule through violence — every one is absolutely the desire of his heart. If he gets enough power, he will try to do every one of those things.

He speaks directly?

OK — but a man’s actions reveal his heart. And there’s a big difference between “speaking the truth” and “saying what the people in the room right now want to hear, even if it’s a lie.” Nothing Trump says is ever true; it’s always only expedient… the quickest way to get what he wants at the time. It’s manipulative.

His personal life is a mess?

You, Christians, who live your whole lives around the word of God, should be the first to understand that leadership bears real, actual fruit. Brazil’s government is not just a TV show, it’s a machine with real power over people’s lives. Trump’s personal life is littered with wives and mistresses, and broken friendships — you can say that doesn’t matter, but a man that can’t be trusted can’t function except through fear, and power, and lies. This is not leadership. Besides, Trump is rich, but he’s not an honest businessman. He got his money by defrauding people, not paying his workers, not paying his taxes. This is not good business.

God can use the wicked?

Of course he can. God is good, and God is sovereign.

But Pharaoh and Ahab were not elected democratically. Wicked men bear wicked fruit, just as good men bear good fruit… and in a democracy, that fruit is our responsibility.

So, please, family, if you are planning to vote for this man, take a moment and consider the cost of putting him in power over your country. It’s a little bit my country, too.

Here is another way Bolsonaro is like Trump: Trump only cares about Trump. He wants America to prosper only so that he can take from it. The source of this prosperity? It’s the weak among us. This is Robin Hood in reverse.

Look around at the people in your life, actual people you know, who are: old, poor, strangers, women, handicapped, black, gay, any religion other than Christian. They are all targets. In the weeks after Trump’s election, and ever since, we have seen a sharp increase in racist violence, even here in Flagstaff. My parents are having money taken away from them, and their insurance is not as effective as it was before. My friend Hoda, who has spent years here at NAU working toward her doctorate in education, went home to visit her family for vacation and was not allowed to return — because her family is from Iran. She can not finish her degree, and years of her works are lost. Another friend has had to relive her own sexual assault, watching in horror this week as Trump’s guy is being installed on the Supreme Court despite rape allegations against him. I should maybe add that Trump selected Kavanaugh because he has said publicly that he doesn’t think a sitting president can be indicted for any crimes. Maybe just coincidence.

I don’t know what you are hearing about America under Trump, but let me say honestly: these have been the darkest 2 years I’ve ever seen in this country. Trump is slowly destroying our democracy, hatred and racism have been emboldened, and although the very rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. It’s not just “The Left” who are saying this. Many millions of Americans who voted for Trump now regret it, and and are planning to vote against the Republicans who have protected him for their own gain.

Please, don’t make the same mistake. Vote conservative, or vote liberal, or abstain — any other option but Bolsonaro. The cost of inviting this violence into your house is not worth it… not for “family values”, not for increased political power for Evangelicals.

I believe with all my heart that God, who is love, and law, and hospitality, and welcome, and truth, and peace — does not want this for your beautiful country.

I love you all. Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your time.

Peace of Christ to you,