Religion as a Social Substitute for the State: Faith-Based Social Action in Twenty-First Century Brazil (abstract)
AbstractDynamic and pluralist religion plays a vital role in development in contemporary Brazil. As advisors that supplement and, occasionally, even substitute for a state bureaucracy absent or overwhelmed in many vulnerable areas, Brazilian religious organisations are once again becoming the favoured partners of the state. This reconfiguration is taking place under markedly different conditions than in the colonial era, when the throne and the altar worked together in an intimate relationship. Since then, successive constitutions have imposed the legal separation of politics and religion. On a social level, however, the two spheres today appear dedicated to cooperation. This chapter analyses the current tendency of the Brazilian government to ‘contract’ an increasing number of religious entities to deliver and manage many of its social development responsibilities in ‘public-religious partnerships’. In light of this trend, the time has come to reconsider the historical relationship between the state and the Church(es) in Brazil, a phenomenon currently characterised by the advent of a ‘supplemental secularism’.