Evangelical gangs in Rio de Janeiro wage ‘holy war’ on Afro-Brazilian faiths
The expression “evangelical drug trafficker” may sound incongruous, but in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, it’s widespread. Charismatic Christianity is on the rise across Brazil. Slightly less than a third of all Brazilians identify as evangelical, up from 5% in the 1960s.
The 2020 national census is expected to show significantly more growth. In Rio, where the evangelical population increased 30% in the first decade of this century, even some of the most notorious drug dealers claim to be spreading the gospel.
Reports of religiously motivated crimes in Rio de Janeiro have sharply increased since 2016, in particular attacks on “terreiros” – the temples of the Candomblé and Umbanda faiths.