There is a young religious revolution stirring souls in Brazil. For many, it’s about 10 years old and known to wear pink dresses.
Alani Santos is better known as “The Little Missionary.” People flock to her touch, straining to be healed by the hands of a girl they believe can work miracles. Santos is one of many evangelical preachers and leaders – even exorcists – winning souls in Brazil. The convert count is at 44 million in a country that has historically been dominated by Catholicism.
“I feel a very intense happiness,” Alani says of her work in the church. “We feel the power of God.”
Fusion’s Chief Investigative Reporter Mariana van Zeller traveled throughout Brazil and its 200 million people to track the sources and power of this evangelical revolution. Though its footprint has grown, its roots lie on the fringes, in jungle communities and poor neighborhoods. Evangelicals mix pure persistence with a unique blend of Christian and African mysticism that’s proven to be quite potent.
The growing ranks of believers has translated into bursting coffers for evangelical leaders. Critics say that charlatan healers and opportunist preachers are hijacking the faith to get in on the booming salvation business and take advantage of its largely poor, uneducated base.