Stories about alleged connections between the two remaining contenders in Brazil’s presidential election, the Freemasons, and the Devil dominated traditional news outlets and blogs in the last two days, data shows.
An exclusive survey by the media monitoring company NewsWhip — carried out at the request of The Brazilian Report — shows a spike in the number of articles published about the relationship between President Jair Bolsonaro and the Freemasons, as well as about supposed links between former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Devil. The study includes articles published between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Social media interactions on both topics also skyrocketed, with the Bolsonaro and Freemasons stories being much more popular than the ones about Lula and Satan.
Last Sunday, Lula and Mr. Bolsonaro finished first and second place, respectively, in the first round of the presidential elections, qualifying for the runoff vote on October 30.
President Bolsonaro is a self-declared Catholic but has made public visits to Masonic lodges. The Catholic Church considers Freemasonry incompatible with its faith, stating “the faithful who enroll in them are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” An 18th-century ban on Catholics joining the Freemasons was reaffirmed in 2013 by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
Additionally, part of the growing Pentecostal evangelical community in Brazil associates Freemasonry with pagan practices and the Devil.
Videos and photos of Mr. Bolsonaro visiting masonic lodges years ago — while he was still a Congressman — recently resurfaced on the web and have been circulating on apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
A 2014 photo was edited to include a painting of Baphomet, a deity incorporated into various occult and Western esoteric traditions. The doctored photo gained so much traction that Reuters published a fact-check story clarifying that, although Mr. Bolsonaro did really visit a masonic lodge, there was no painting of Baphomet.
On the other side of the political divide, pro-Bolsonaro influencers a video about an alleged connection shared between Lula and the Devil. The video led Lula’s election campaign team to publish a statement saying: “Lula is a Christian […] Lula does not have a pact nor did he ever talk with the Devil.”
According to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 84 percent of Brazilians believe faith in God is necessary in order to have moral values.