The Persecution of Umbanda in Brazil

A while back, I highlighted the religious practices of Umbanda in Brazil. While it is an important part of Brazil’s culture, it is unfortunately facing ongoing persecution:

Four years ago, an Italian tourist was robbed at Rio’s famed Copacabana Beach. Days later, the leader of one of Brazil’s growing evangelical Christian sects told the police that the man who’d committed the crime was an Umbanda follower who’d been possessed by a devil-like spirit that made him rob the tourist.

The unsubstantiated claim offended practitioners of Umbanda and Candomble, another Afro-Brazilian religion, bringing to light the discrimination that many face.

“They have been discriminated against since they came here because of their practices and the belief that they were cults,” said Henrique Pessoa, a police official who heads Rio’s new office investigating crimes of religious intolerance, which was established after the Copacabana robbery.

As they say, read the whole story. It does a nice job of getting into some of the basic beliefs of Umbanda practitioners and the challenges they still face today.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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