Behold the Hanzo Church: Overwatch is now a religion in Brazil
In order to show how easy it is to start a tax-exempt religion in Brazil, a local gamer created the Hanzo Church, based on the game Overwatch.
In a fairly spectacular act of civil disobedience via satire, a Brazilian gamer decided to highlight the absurdity of Brazil’s religious laws, which are so loose that nearly anyone can form their own church and avoid paying taxes. To do so, he officially created and registered the Hanzo Church, based on the least popular character in the game Overwatch.
In Brazil, all you need to do to register a religion is to have a Brazilian address, get five people to join, get the signature of a lawyer on a written statute, and pay some fees. Once you have that, a notary will officially stamp your request, and once it is filed you can claim tax exempt status. There are a few more safeguards in place, but since 2010, 67,951 groups, individuals, and organizations have registered as religious entities and the initial intent has been badly circumvented.
The gamer behind the Hanzo Church is named Mateus Mognon, and while he understands and appreciates that the initial goal of the loose religious laws was to encourage religious freedom, it has since been badly abused. Beyond just people using it as a tax shelter, money laundering through registered religious institutes has become a serious issue, and there are cases of people abusing the religious protection for a host of other reasons as well.
“In Brazil, where more than 190,000 religious organizations are active, according to the IBPT, we have already had several cases of deviant tithing, issuing false tax bills, and even political shepherds using their influence to win votes,” Mognon stated on his website (which was translated from Portuguese to English by Google).
And so he created a church of his own to highlight the issues. He chose the character of Hanzo, arguably most unpopular character in the game, to add a layer of ridiculousness to it all.
If you aren’t familiar with Overwatch, you may still know the recent “Hanzo Main” meme. Overwatch is a competitive team game where players are meant to work together as a unit. Each playable character has their own unique abilities, and it is encouraged – even expected – that players will choose a character that helps the team. Hanzo, however, is considered to be something of a lone wolf.
Characters that focus on playing one character and refuse to change to help the team are known as “maining.” So when a young girl in school had her pencil stolen, she shouted out the worst insult she could think of and called the other kid a “Hanzo Main.” And thus a legendary meme was born.
The expression caught on, and during the 2016 election, an anonymous group created a billboard in Florida that stated “Donald Trump mains Hanzo and complains about team comp in chat. Trump is not a team player.”
As for the Hanzo Church, its demands are fairly simple. They request Tuesday off for “religious studies” and members are forbidden from using the phrase “Hanzo Main.” They also have a baptism process that requires players to simply play a single game of Overwatch.
All things considered, there are probably goofier religions that take themselves far more seriously and have much less of a point.