Brazil’s socialist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s team has launched a campaign insisting the presidential candidate is a Christian and has made no deal with Satan after videos were widely shared on social media showing Satanists performing spells to kill him. win elections of the month.
Lula’s team reportedly asked the country’s highest court, the Supreme Federal Court (STF), on Tuesday to censor any content linking the candidate to Satan.
At the same time, Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative Christian whose family is both evangelical and Catholic, is denying his own accusations of devil worship following the resurgence of a 2017 video of Bolsonaro addressing a Masonic lodge .
Bolsonaro and Lula are in a tight race for the presidency, which will be decided in an election on October 30. In Sunday’s first round of voting, Lula, who served as president between 2003 and 2011, received 48 percent of the vote, the most of any candidate. In Brazil, to win the presidency in a single round of voting, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote. Since Lula did not meet that requirement, he will appear on the ballot with only one other candidate: Bolsonaro, who received 43 percent of the vote.
Sunday’s election results shocked Brazil’s left, which had expected Lula to beat Bolsonaro by as many as 14 points. Polls published days before the vote showed Lula could receive 51 percent of the vote, ending the election and becoming president again. In fact, the five percent difference between the two candidates leaves the next round of voting open for either candidate to win, as the third- and fourth-place candidates received a combined seven percent of the vote.
According to CNN Brasil, videos began circulating on the Chinese platform Tiktok this week in which a person described as a Satanist expressed his support for Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign. That initial video followed the release of other social media posts and conversations shared by Bolsonaro supporters and those close to his campaign. Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the president’s son, shared a video on Twitter that appeared to show a magic ritual to help Lula, whose original poster was captioned, “Satanists are in a state of despair.”
Satanista tá no modo desespero pic.twitter.com/nunLIHwWJt
— TeAtualizei 2️⃣2️⃣ 🇷👊🏻❤️ (@taoquei1) October 4, 2022
Flavio Bolsonaro also shared a post recalling Lula appearing at an event with followers of Nigeria’s Yoruba religion, commonly known as santeria in much of Latin America and receiving as a gift a ceremonial ax associated with the African deity Changó (Xangô in Portuguese). Santeria, Lucumíor Nigerian Yoruba paganism by its other names has nothing to do with Lucifer as he is known in Judeo-Christian religions, although many Christians in countries where santeria it is common, like Cuba, to consider the worship of Yoruba gods a sin.
Tá bom 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/JlEojoTyKa
— TeAtualizei 2️⃣2️⃣ 🇷👊🏻❤️ (@taoquei1) October 4, 2022
The event referenced in Lula’s tweet occurred in 2017 and caused similar outrage among Christian Brazilians at the time.
According to CNN, lawyers associated with the coalition supporting Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) have formally asked the STF to censor publications linking Lula to Satan worship, claiming they are “fake news”. Lawyers are particularly challenging a video in which an alleged Satanist appears to support Lula on the grounds that, in a separate Tiktok video, the same person appears to criticize the candidate.
The STF was particularly favorable to Lula, who appointed three of the 11 sitting judges in the months and years leading up to the election. The STF’s intervention is the only reason Lula is allowed to legally run for president, as he was convicted of using taxpayer dollars to buy a luxury property during his presidency in 2017. Last year, the STF overturned the conviction on the grounds that the judge presiding over the case, Sergio Moro, was biased. Moro won a congressional seat for his state of Paraná on Sunday and has since endorsed Bolsonaro.
In yet another religious controversy, conservatives online condemned Lula for remarks in 2016 in which he compared himself to Jesus.
“I speak as an outraged citizen. I have a known public story. Only Jesus Christ can defeat me in Brazil,” Lula said at the time, vowing to run for the presidency again despite being accused of criminal corruption.
Brazilian media have defended Lula, arguing that critics now say Lula claimed he could beat Jesus in a Brazilian election, when in fact he claimed Jesus is the only candidate who might have a chance.
The Lula campaign has separately flooded social media with a barrage of content affirming the former president’s Christianity.
“Lula believes in God and is a Christian. Lula has no deal and has never had a conversation with the devil,” claimed an Instagram post from the campaign-run Lula for Truth account.
“Bolsonistas share a video that attempts to link Lula to Satanism,” Lula’s official website acknowledged in a post. “This relationship does not exist. Whoever supports it is dishonest and abuses the good faith of the people.”
“The truth, as we have repeated in the past, is that Lula is a Christian, a Catholic, confirmed [in the Church], married and a churchgoer. There is no connection between Lula and Satanism,” the post insisted.
Lula’s official account has posted several images of him visiting various popes, including Pope Francis. The candidate himself paid a visit on Wednesday to speak to the Franciscans months in honor of the feat of St. Francis of Assisi this week.
E também pelo Santo Padre.
📸: @ricardostuckert pic.twitter.com/jMPYtl2pIf
— Lula 13 (@LulaOfficial) October 2, 2022
Encontro today with Frei Davi em homenagem ao dia de São Francisco. Let’s go together for a Brazil of love and respect to all.
📸: @ricardostuckert pic.twitter.com/ZYowIpvBxq
— Lula 13 (@LulaOfficial) October 4, 2022
Bolsonaro was the subject of a separate, smaller episode of Satanism panic on Tuesday after a video emerged of him speaking at a Masonic event in 2018. According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Bolsonaro, then a member of parliament, did not address any religious issues at the event, instead speaking out against the country’s mismanagement by the left-wing PT government. Some of Bolsonaro’s opponents have, however, confused the Masonic imagery in the video as satanic iconography. Others shared a fake image, including one of Baphomet, a “winged hermaphrodite” associated with Satanism, of Bolsonaro visiting a Masonic lodge in 2014.
Bolsonaro and maçonaria: video antigo viraliza and presidente é alvo de críticas https://t.co/cGO9zwBMOv pic.twitter.com/UssMEvKVS1
— O Globo Política (@OGloboPolitica) October 4, 2022
Bolsonaro has used much of his presidency to defend religious freedom, particularly using international platforms to condemn Christian persecution and rising rates of “Christophobia” in the Middle East and South Asia. Attempts to link him to Satanism have not taken off on social media to the same extent that the similar controversy with Lula has.
The issue of Freemasonry this week is the second time Bolsonaro has faced accusations of Satanism during this campaign. Last month, Lula personally accused Bolsonaro of being “possessed by the devil” and called him a “Pharisee,” according to the doubters of Jesus in the Gospels. Lula claimed that Bolsonaro had been possessed by Satan because of his opposition to restrictions on civil liberties related to the Chinese coronavirus.
Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.