On his eponymous Sunday morning show, CNN host Fareed Zakaria gave a three-minute commentary in which he bemoaned the increasing influence of evangelical Christians in Latin American countries as he fretted that they could “derail” the “progress” of a liberal agenda on abortion and gay rights.
At 10:40 a.m. Eastern, the show’s regular “What in the World” segment began with Zakaria informing viewers of the good news that Cubans will be able to vote on a constitution that will allow people to own private property, but he then lamented that it would not facilitate the advancement of same-sex marriage rights on the island nation. He added: “That idea was met with ardent opposition from a community with growing clout in the region: evangelical Christians.”
The CNN host cited polling finding that the percentage of Latin Americans who are Protestants has grown substantially since the 1970s, and then noted that they are similar to evangelical Christians in the U.S. He lamented: “On gay rights and gender identity, they are conservative, even reactionary. So the growth of evangelical churches has awakened a culture war in the region.”
He then noted that, in Brazil, a “strong evangelical lobby backed a far-right president.” Zakaria then complained: “On his first day in office, (President Jair) Bolsonaro removed LGBT issues from the purview of the Human Rights Ministry.” He further complained that the president’s “evangelical supporters are advocating a bill that would require people to use bathrooms according to their biological sex.”
The CNN host then shifted to bemoaning efforts by evangelicals and Catholics in Argentina to protect unborn babies: “And religion is mixing with politics beyond Brazil. Evangelicals in Argentina along with Catholics mobilized to fight against a proposed law that would legalize abortion.”
Turning attention to Mexico, he continued:
Even Mexico’s leftist president came to power with a coalition including a small evangelical party that expicitly opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. What makes this burgeoning culture war so noteworthy is the fact that much of Latin America has had an extraordinarily liberal tradition when it comes to gay rights.
After noting that several other Latin American countries have a history of enacting laws protecting gay rights, Zakaria added, “But a backlash is mounting. What we’re seeing is the very beginning of a new identity politics in Latin America.”
He concluded: “But this is an identity politics not rooted in ethnicity, but evangelical Christianity, fired by discomfort in modern open diverse societies. And it could derail one of the great narratives of progress in the developing world.”