The Series On The Role Of Evangelists In Politics That Has Stirred Up Controversy In Argentina

The anxiety of a traditional politician to win the elections is the starting point of the story. In times of loss of confidence in the parties, a desperate electoral strategy appears: to add an evangelical pastor to the presidential formula.

In ‘El Reino’, the new series produced by Netflix in Argentina, Pastor Emilio Vázquez Pena, played by Diego Peretti, is the vice candidate who does not convince the president and who, in a few minutes, becomes the center of the plot. Within the cast of the famous series – which is currently the most watched in the Latin American country – is none other than ‘Chino’ Darín, son of the national icon of cinema, Ricardo Darín.

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The series, directed by Marcelo Piñeyro and scripted by the writer Claudia Piñero, takes place in Argentina but could take place in any other country in Latin America.

The fact that they have chosen that country, where evangelicals do not exceed 15.3%, according to the second survey on Religious Beliefs and Attitudes in Argentina, confirms that it is a fiction although with features of reality.

It would be very different if the scenario were Brazil, where the power of the evangelical churches is different and their faithful represent 31% of Brazilians.

But Brazil, unlike Argentina, has an electoral system that facilitates the representation of regional leaders without the need for strong party structures at the national level. In addition to the fact that Argentina maintains a strong identification with the parties, which continue to be above religious preferences.

In Latin America, nearly one in five people (19%) describes themselves as an evangelist, according to the Pew Research Center survey, which looks at religious affiliation, beliefs, and practices in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The religious affiliation of Latin Americans is strongest in evangelism in Central American countries such as Honduras (41%), Nicaragua (49%), and Guatemala (41%).

The premiere had an impact. Last Wednesday, the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Argentine Republic (Aciera) published a statement on its page, which was later deleted, where they say that “it seeks, from that ideological thought, to try to segregate them [a los evangelistas], mark them on lists, mark them as dangerous, fundamentalist, separate them from the rest so that, isolated, they weaken and disappear. In short, a fascist-type behavior. “

If the series reached this scope, it is because it is linked to an issue that is still hot: the debate over the legalization of abortion in Argentina. Between 2008 and 2019, that country doubled the proportion of people who affirm that abortion is a women’s right, while the evangelical faithful are those who most oppose abortion, much more than Catholics.

Claudia Piñeiro is one of the visible faces of the fight for the expansion of women’s rights. That is why the complaint was direct to her: “It is known the anger that the writer and screenwriter of this work has expressed from her feminist militancy during the debate on the abortion law towards the evangelical group of Argentina, represented by millions of citizens who did not agree on their position on the issue, “the statement said.

“I understand that it can fall badly, that there is someone who does not like it. But the statement shocked me because it tells you where you have to go and intimidate you. They only grabbed it with me. They mentioned actors, the director, the producer but it was they grabbed me because they said I had done it because I was resentful of feminist activism in the law for the abortion law. That seemed very serious to me, “the Argentine writer replied to the local press

.

From the different groups of feminist women, such as Argentine journalists and actresses, “they repudiated the attacks she received for her work as a screenwriter” and denounced that “the seriousness of the attacks against Claudia is due especially to her condition as a woman and a feminist activist, defender of women’s rights “.

The leap from fiction to reality opened different types of debates.

On the one hand, if you take a fiction as a mirror of reality. And if we take a particular case, like that of Pastor Emilio, as a generality, even though there are other characters in the series. Such is the case of Tadeo, a believer dedicated to working with the poorest.

“We try to have a lot of respect for those who have a genuine faith within this religion and any religion. That has nothing to do with believers, it has to do in any case with the churches and with some characters within those churches who do those pacts, “said the writer weeks ago in an interview with journalist Hinde Pomeraniec.

There are also criticisms of the “caricature” of the evangelical world. “The evangelical pastor is one of the most misunderstood and, therefore, most stereotyped figures in the religious world in Argentina”, says Mariela Mosqueira, coordinator of the Diploma on Religious Diversity at the University of Buenos Aires, in this article.

“The pastor is a total villain. Not a single nuance. How to make this reifying gaze more complex? How are the really existing pastors?”, Mosqueira raises as a trigger.

Marcos Carbonelli, doctor in Social Sciences and researcher on religion and politics in Argentina, commented on Twitter that “a presiding pastor in Argentina is more than unlikely” and that “the possibility is based on a hypothesis already refuted by the Social Sciences: there is no continuity between religious adherence and political conduct. “

But he also maintains that the simplification of the evangelical world can only be understood within the framework of a fiction. “If we follow the idea of ​​the series as a mirror, another problem is the representation of believers as a flock without autonomy that votes what the pastor tells him because ‘he was rescued’. Underlying here is a miserable view of evangelical believers. Very close , not to say the same, to the clientele gaze, “says Carbonelli.

When the series jumps into public debate, threats and insults appear that leave the debate of ideas behind and go to the level of violence. For the gender journalist, Luciana Peker, it is a type of violence that falls especially on women who dispute public space.

Pablo Semán, sociologist and author of ‘Vivir la fe’, wrote in the newspaper that “beyond the status of the series there are historical statements that are aggressive and painful for each of the contending sides. Today they are condensed into a controversy, in which each one of them has their reasons and their mistakes.”

The new Netflix series seems to have reopened a debate that is not yet closed at all in Argentine society.

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