Fears that the coronavirus could spread throughout Brazil’s indigenous population are heightening after reports say evangelical missionaries in the region are convincing communities in the country’s remote areas to reject the vaccine, The Guardian reports.
In one remote village, healthcare workers had to retreat after being met with bows and arrows while approaching the villagers in a helicopter.
“It’s not happening in all villages, just in those that have missionaries or evangelical chapels where pastors are convincing the people not to receive the vaccine, that they will turn into an alligator and other crazy ideas,” Claudemir da Silva, an Apurinã leader representing indigenous communities on the Purus river, told The Guardian.
“Religious fundamentalists and evangelical missionaries are preaching against the vaccine,” said Dinamam Tuxá, a leader of APIB, Brazil’s largest indigenous organization.
While many of Brazil’s evangelical megachurches encourage vaccination, it hasn’t stopped pastors in remote territories from spreading misinformation. “Unfortunately, some pastors who lack wisdom are spreading misinformation to our indigenous brethren,” said Pastor Mario Jorge Conceição of the Assembly of God Traditional church in Manaus.
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