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Brazilian Real Can Be Free From God

Brazilian Real: Deus seja louvado - "God be praised"

Public Attorney Jefferson Dias, who has declared himself Catholic, is being threatened by his fellow Christians for moving a legal action to remove the phrase “God be praised” from Brazilian Real paper money. “I received some emails threatening my life, in the name of God” he stated, in an interview with an online news website. [1]

Dias is acting following a request to the Public Attorney by an atheist who stated he was disturbed by the Brazilian State showing a preference to one religion on the currency. Investigation by Dias revealed that the phrase “God be praised” was added to Brazilian currency after a personal request by Jose Sarney, currently president of Senate, during his time as President of Brazil (1985 - 1990). Dias noted that the Central Bank did not provide information about how the inclusion of the phrase occurred: but after Minister Marco Aurelio spoke of this matter in the context of his vote to make the abortion of anencepalic fetuses legal, the Central Bank acknowledged the phrase had been included as a personal favour.

Despite the secular nature of his action, Dias has quoted Biblical passages, such as Jesus’ statement regarding the payment of taxes "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's", and Biblical events, such as the expulsion of merchants from the temple by Jesus (“stop making my Father's house a place of business”), to support the position that having God mentioned on currency is in fact contrary to Biblical values.

On 29 November, a federal judge denied Dias’ request for early relief, which means that the legal process will follow a standard path. [2] The decision was based on the fact that “no laic or non-Christian association that manifests indignation towards the inscription was consulted”.

Public Attorney Jefferson Dias

As the vast majority of Brazilians are Christians, Dias’ actions have limited popular support and many do not agree that the inclusion of God on the currency goes against the idea of a laic state. If this matter is ultimately judged by the Supreme Court (including Minister Marco Aurelio), even if it took a long time to get there, expectations for a fair judgement are high. However, as Jefferson Dias will conclude his position as Public Attorney early in 2013, it is more likely that if the matter is not decided favourably there will be no one to appeal to the Supreme Court, and the request will merely be filed as a failed attempt to achieve secularism.


[1] Terra Noticias - Online Newspaper.
[2] G1 Noticias - Online Newspaper.