Brazil's Bible, beef and bullets lobby backs Temer, unfazed by scandal
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA, June 24 (Reuters) - Conservative legislators in Brazil say they will back interim President Michel Temer through a growing corruption scandal in return for support for their right-wing social agenda, including tougher abortion restrictions and looser gun control.
The powerful bloc's willingness to stand by Temer, expressed to Reuters by five of its leading lawmakers, bolsters his chances of surviving the scandal and ousting suspended President Dilma Rousseff in an impeachment trial, despite losing three ministers in a month to a graft probe of state oil company Petrobras.
The widening scandal has undermined Temer's six-week-old government and shaken confidence in his ability to pass reforms aimed at cutting Brazil's fiscal deficit as Latin America's largest economy faces its worst recession in decades.
Temer, the former vice president, took office last month after the left-leaning Rousseff was placed on trial in the Senate for breaking budget rules. He will see out her term until 2018 if she is convicted in the impeachment hearings, due to conclude in mid-August.
Leaders of the so-called "Bible, beef and bullets" caucus -- which groups evangelical Christians, the farm lobby and lawmakers determined to ease strict firearms controls -- are keen to see Rousseff dismissed from office after she threatened to veto its social and business agenda.
Temer has denied allegations that he sought campaign funds for his party stemming from the Petrobras graft scheme.
"The corruption allegations will not stop us supporting Temer's economic plan," said Senator Magno Malta, an evangelical pastor who rose to fame as singer in a gospel band and who is a prominent member of the lobby.
"Temer is a Christian, who believes in family values and that God meant marriage to be between a man and a woman. Our agenda will move forward now." Continuación...