Socialist ex-president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s team has launched a campaign insisting that the presidential frontrunner is a Christian and has not made any deals with Satan following the widespread sharing of social media videos appearing to show Satanists casting spells to win him this month’s election.

Lula’s team reportedly asked the nation’s top electoral body, the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), on Tuesday to censor any content linking the candidate to Satan.

Simultaneously, current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative Christian whose family is both Evangelical and Catholic, is denying his own accusations of devil worship following the resurgence of a video in which, in 2017, Bolsonaro addressed a Masonic lodge.

Bolsonaro and Lula are caught in a tight race for the presidency, to be decided in an election on October 30. In the first round of voting on Sunday, Lula, who served as president between 2003 and 2011, received 48 percent of the vote, the most of any candidate. In Brazil, to win the presidency with one round of voting, a candidate must receive over 50 percent of the vote. Since Lula did not meet that requirement, he will appear on a ballot with only one other candidate: Bolsonaro, who received 43 percent of the vote.

The results of Sunday’s election shocked the Brazilian left, which expected Lula to defeat Bolsonaro by as many as 14 points. Polls published days before voting suggested that Lula could receive 51 percent of the vote, ending the election and becoming president again. In reality, the five-percent difference between the two candidates leaves the next round of voting open for either candidate to win, as the third and fourth place candidates received seven percent of the votes combined.

According to CNN Brasil, videos began circulating on the Chinese platform Tiktok this week in which an individual who identified as a satanist expressed support for Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign. That initial video followed the publication of other social media posts and chatter shared by Bolsonaro supporters and those close to his campaign. Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the president’s son, shared one video on Twitter that appeared to show a witchcraft ritual to aid Lula, whose original poster shared with the caption, “satanists are in desperation mode.”

Flavio Bolsonaro also shared a post that recalled Lula appearing at an event with followers of the Nigerian Yoruba religion, known commonly as santería in much of Latin America, and receiving as a gift a ceremonial ax associated with the African deity Changó (Xangô in Portuguese). Santería, Lucumí, or Nigerian Yoruba paganism by its other names does not have any association with Lucifer as he is known in the Judeo-Christian faiths, though many Christians in countries where santería is common, such as Cuba, consider worshipping the Yoruba gods a sin.

The event referenced in the Lula tweet occurred in 2017 and caused similar outrage among Christian Brazilians at the time it occurred.

According to CNN, attorneys associated with the coalition supporting Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) have formally requested the TSE, the nation’s top election overseeing body, censor publications associating Lula with Satan worship, claiming they are “fake news.” The attorneys are particularly contesting a video in which an alleged satanist appears to support Lula on the grounds that, in a separate video on Tiktok, the same individual appears to criticize the candidate.

The Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), the nation’s top court, has been highly favorable to Lula, who appointed three of the 11 sitting justices, in the months and years preceding the election. The STF’s intervention is the only reason Lula is allowed to legally run for president, as he was convicted of using taxpayers’ dollars to buy a luxury property during his presidency in 2017. Last year, the STF overturned the conviction on the grounds that the judge presiding over the case, Sergio Moro, was biased. Moro won a congressional seat for his state, Paraná, on Sunday and has since endorsed Bolsonaro.

In yet another religious controversy, conservatives online condemned Lula for remarks in 2016 in which he compared himself to Jesus.

“I am speaking as an outraged citizen. I have a known public history. Only Jesus Christ can beat me in Brazil,” Lula said at the time, vowing to run for president again despite being charged with criminal corrupt behavior.

Brazilian outlets have defended Lula by claiming that detractors are now saying that Lula claimed he could defeat Jesus in a Brazilian election, when in reality he claimed Jesus is the only candidate that may stand a chance.

The Lula campaign has separately flooded social media with a barrage of content affirming the former president’s Christianity.

“Lula believes in God and is Christian. Lula does not have a pact and has never had a conversation with the devil,” a post on Instagram by the account “Lula for Truth,” run by the campaign, asserted.

“Bolsonaristas are sharing a video that attempts to tie Lula to satanism,” Lula’s official website acknowledged in a post. “That relationship does not exist. Whoever supports that is dishonest and abuses of the good faith of people.”

“The truth, as we have repeated before, is that Lula is Christian, Catholic, confirmed [in the Church], married, and church-attending. No relationship exists between Lula and satanism,” the post insisted.

Lula’s official account has published multiple images of him visiting various popes, including Pope Francis. The candidate himself made a visit on Wednesday to converse with Franciscan months in honor of the feat of St. Francis of Assisi this week.

Bolsonaro was the subject of a separate, smaller satanism panic episode on Tuesday after a video surfaced of him speaking at a Masonic event in 2018. According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Bolsonaro, then a lawmaker, did not address any religious themes at the event, instead speaking out against the PT leftist government’s poor administration of the country. Some Bolsonaro opponents have, however, mistaken Masonic images in the video for satanic iconography. Others shared a falsified image including an icon of Baphomet, a “winged hermaphrodite” image associated with satanism, of Bolsonaro visiting a Masonic lodge in 2014.

Bolsonaro has used much of his presidential tenure to defend religious freedom, particularly using international platforms to condemn Christian persecution and rising rates of “Christophobia” in the Middle East and South Asia. The attempts to tie him to satanism have not taken off on social media to the same extent that the similar controversy involving Lula has.

The Masonry topic this week is the second time that Bolsonaro has faced accusations of satanism during this campaign. Last month, Lula personally accused Bolsonaro of being “possessed by the devil” and called him a “Pharisee,” after the doubters of Jesus in the Gospels. Lula claimed Bolsonaro was possessed by Satan because of his opposition to Chinese coronavirus-related civil liberties restrictions.

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This article has been updated to reflect that Lula’s campaign appealed to the TSE, the electoral body, not the STF, the supreme court, regarding the content.