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“Shortly after Jair Bolsonaro’s decisive victory in the Brazilian presidential election last week, the populist leader said he would follow through on his campaign promise to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Like Donald Trump, Mr. Bolsonaro—himself a Catholic but married to an evangelical Protestant pastor—owes his political success in large part to support from evangelical voters. As recently as the 1970s, Brazil was almost uniformly Catholic. But in one of the greatest religious shifts of modern times, the largest country in Latin America is today nearly as evangelical as the U.S.: 25% of Brazilians identify as evangelical Christians, compared with 26% of Americans, according to the Joshua Project. As in the U.S., many evangelical and Pentecostal Christians instinctively support Israel and endorse a law-and-order agenda at home.
At a time of increased anxiety for many Jews in Europe and North America, the rise of evangelical and Pentecostal Christian support for Judaism and Israel in much of the world is a heartening sign. Based on a literal approach to the Bible and a covenantal theology that attributes a continuing religious significance to the Jewish people and their state, these two rapidly spreading forms of Protestant Christianity tend to promote a climate of respect for individual Jews as well as support for Zionism. They view the continued existence of the Jewish people as a mark of God’s faithfulness and believe the Jewish people have a special place in God’s plan as recipients of his favor.
Improved relations with Israel are a hallmark of evangelical political influence. Guatemala, another historically Catholic country, is now about 40% Protestant. It opened an embassy in Jerusalem two days after the U.S. did. Although Latin American countries have typically been hostile to Israel since the 1967 war, that’s changing rapidly.”
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