A Federal Court in Rio de Janeiro issued a decision in which it opines that Afro-Brazilian religions are not religious and that their "religious events do not contain the necessary traits of a religion."
The definition was in response to an action by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) which called for the withdrawal of videos of evangelical cults that were considered intolerant and discriminatory against religious practices of African origin on YouTube.
The judge overseeing the case expressed the opinion that for a belief system to be considered religion, it must follow a basic text - such as the Bible, Torah, or the Koran, for example - and have a defined hierarchical structure, as well as a single (monotheistic) deity as the main focus of worship.
The action of the MPF sought the removal of videos by considering the material contained dissemination of hate speech, prejudice, intolerance and discrimination against practitioners of Umbanda, Candomblé and other african-Brazilian religions. "To get an idea of the contents in one of the videos, a pastor tells those present that they can close the “voodoo” temples in the neighborhood," according to the Regional Attorney for Citizens' Rights, Jaime Mitropoulos.
According to the Justice website in Focus, the MPF will appeal the decision at next session of the Federal Court and to continue seeking the removal of the videos from streaming on the Google platform.
"The decision is puzzling, because instead of appropriate judicial review, he opted to create a definition of what constitutes a religion, denying various international institutions and authorities that deal with the matter (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Pact of San José, Costa Rica, etc..), the Federal Constitution and the Brazilian Law 12.288/10. In addition, this ruling denies history and social facts about the existence of these religions and the persecution they suffered throughout history, disregarding altogether the notion that the religions of African traditions are anchored on the principles of orality, temporality, seniority in ancestry, and do not require a basic written text to guide them, " said Mitropoulos.
Based on the reporting of Tiago Chagas
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