Hidden Brazilian Religion – Critical Commentary

Posted on October 1, 2013 by

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Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro- Brazilian religion practiced mainly in Brazil by the “povo do santo”.  The religion is a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu beliefs, which originated from different regions of Africa.  Centuries ago, multiple slave ships were traveled back and forth across the Atlantic from West Africa and Brazil.  During that time, the followers of the religion, Candomblé, eventually made it across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil.  The followers of Candomblé believe in one all-powerful god who is served by lesser gods.  There is no concept of good or evil in Candomblé, only individual destiny.  Because Candomblé was a religion of the slaves in the past, they have struggled for many years to finally be accepted as a legitimate religion by the Brazilian society.  It was once very hidden and isolated from society.  Candomblé is also represented by Catholic saints and absorbs many Catholic practices, so at one point, Candomblé practitioners would tell the government that they were Catholics in order to protect themselves from persecution.  Now at this time, a Candomblé political party has been created and they’re attempting to gain more political power.

            Firstly, what initially attracted me to this story was the title, and more specifically, the word, hidden religion.  Since when in this day in age must a religion feel they need to stay “hidden”?  This was the question I asked myself when I first read it.  Candomblé followers have been ridiculed and looked down upon by the rest of the Brazilian society for so long that they are just now being publically recognized as a serious religion.  What does society define as a “true” or “genuine” religion?  What I find interesting it that Candomblé shares multiple characteristics that are similar to many major religions of the world.  They believe in a higher power, they have rituals or traditions that they practice, they have a community of followers, they have their own religious leaders, etc.  So what makes this religion so unacceptable? Nothing. Nothing about this religion is abnormal or different than other major religions of the world. 

            Secondly, this article is a perfect representation of how religion and media can be used advantageously or disadvantageously towards an audience.  The author of this story is clearly Pro- Candomblé, because there is not one negative remark against this religion.  Presenting only one side to a story can be a very powerful media tool of persuasion, especially on topics as sensitive as religion.  In this article, Evangelical Christians, and basically anyone who’s not a Candomblé follower, are seen as the “bad guys”, reporting that churches consider them “devil worshippers” and attack innocent followers just because they hate them, and people of the Candomblé religion are seen as the underdogs, the “good guys”.  I think articles like this that are single points of view provide no positive alternative or answer.  They only create more tension between opposing sides.

            Lastly, I think for the future of the Candomblé religion, it will important for them to continue to uphold the legitimacy of their religion.  As stated in the article, they have been granted the right to be a religion by the constitution.  I think their new political party they created, Party for the Freedom of Expression, will be key to their success in becoming a thriving and recognized religion.

 

Bibliography 

http://www.opb.org/news/article/npr-brazilian-believers-of-hidden-religion-step-out-of-shadows/

 

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