The philosophy of modern society draws a thick line between religion and politics. However, a closer look at the two will reveal that these phenomena, in fact, have a lot in common. Moreover, there is an obvious connection between the political moods within a particular society and the religious principles, which the specified society is guided by.
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Depending on the specifics of the religion that a certain society professes, as well as the extent, to which the religion in question is followed by the members of the society, the former does have a tangible effect on the politics of the state. To be more specific, religion allows for making people turn a blind eye on the economic, political and social issues, which the state may be experiencing, and promoting the idea of obedience and compliance with the state laws, as well as the accepted morality principles.
Religious principles, especially when conveyed by the person that is capable of using a transformative leadership strategy, become an efficient weapon in streaming the energy of the population the right direction. As the video clip shows, the deplorable state of favelas, as well as the local prisons, creates the environment that is most favorable for criminals to emerge. The local people, however, can be described as law-abiding and obedient.
The phenomenon in question occurs due to the efficacy of the Pentecostal leaders, who manage to convince people to mend their ways and follow the key principles of morality and ethics even in the conditions that can be defined as far from fostering piety and obedience.
The video shows in a very graphic manner that the religious leader conveys the basic behavioral patterns of a healthy and morally stable person, including dropping cocaine and marijuana (Johnson “If I Give My Soul” 00:01:56), as well as more specific religious ideas, such as “opening their hearts” (Johnson “If I Give My Soul” 00:01:52).
Religion, therefore, serves as the means for people to keep their hope alive and be able to struggle towards a better life. On the one hand, one could argue that the Pentecostal leaders with their idea of high moral standards, only make the situation worse by convincing the local people to be acceptable towards the conditions that they live in and the treatment that they receive.
On the other hand, the methods of the Pentecostal religious leaders can be considered a kind of a “painkiller” that allows people to maintain their faith in humanity and keep their struggle for improving their conditions, supporting their families, striving towards educating themselves, etc. At this point, religion serves as a complementary strategy, which politics cannot allow for due to the restrictions of the latter.
While politics appeals primarily to reason and common sense, religion speaks to one’s personal idea of justice, to one’s ethical standpoint and moral values. As a result, when persuading people to follow the norms and standards that are accepted within the contemporary society, religion seems to be much more efficient, as it translates the basic ethical and moral principles into emotions, therefore, implanting these principles into the people’s subconscious (Johnson “The Politics of Presence” 6).
The efficacy of religion in general and Pentecostalism in particular, in defining the behavior of people living in poor economic and financial conditions, is of much greater effect than any political stance. Since religion appeals to people’s moral values, it helps define their behavior and turn them into low-abiding citizens in a much more successful manner than any political force.
Anderson, John Lee. “Who Controls the Streets of Rio de Janeiro?” The New Yorker. 2010.
Johnson, Andrew. “If I Give My Soul: Pentecostalism inside Rio de Janeiro’s Prisons.” Vimeo. 2012.
Johnson, Andrew. The Politics of Presence: A Pentecostal Response to Prison Violence in Brazil. Berkeley, CA: USC Center for Religion & Civic Culture.