Protestantism in Brazil
Protestantism in Brazil began in the 19th century, and grew in the 20th century. The 2010 Census reported that 22.2% of the Brazilian population is Protestant, about 44 million people.
Protestantism was first practiced by Huguenot travelers in attempts to colonize the country while it was under the Portuguese colonial rule. These attempts, however, would not persist. A French mission sent by John Calvin was established in 1557, in one of the islands of Guanabara Bay, where the France Antarctique was founded. On March 10 of the same year, these Calvinists held the first Protestant service in Brazil and, according to some accounts, the first in all the New World.
Protestant religions were often introduced by immigrants from Europe but over the last three decades, the number of Neo Pentecostal churches such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God have grown a lot. This UCKG church has grown so much in the last decades since its founding in 1977 that many Brazilians are scared to comment on them because since they account for over 20% of the population they may yield a lot of power. One of Brazilian public personalities to speak out against them was the famous actress Hebe Camargo, who said “Sometimes I ask myself how these evangelical churches can brainwash so many people. Their believers get so obsessed and don’t understand they are only making their pastors richer and richer with this “demoniac decime””; commenting the fact that Edir Macedo, the founder of UCKG, and many other pastors have become very rich: Edir Macedo is actually on the Forbes list being worth over 1.1 billion US$ mainly from money raised in donations. Edir Macedo has official charges of fraud and money laundering against him in many countries such as the US, Brazil and Venezuela.
1820s to 1945
In the 19th century, while the vast majority of Brazilians were nominal Catholics, the nation was underserved by priests, and for large numbers their religion was only nominal. Protestantism in Brazil largely originated with European Immigrants as well as British American missionaries following up on efforts that began in the 1820s.
The first Anglican chapel began to offer services to English-speaking people in Rio in 1822. Also in that city, the Prussian consul sponsored the founding of a German and French congregation in 1827, which today is a Lutheran church.
The Methodists were most active, along with Presbyterians and Baptists. The Seventh-day Adventists began in 1894, and the YMCA was organized in 1896. The missionaries promoted schools colleges and seminaries, including a the liberal arts Mackenzie college in São Paulo, and an agricultural school. The Presbyterian schools in particular later became the nucleus of the governmental system. In 1887 Protestants in Rio de Janeiro formed a hospital. The missionaries largely reached a working-class audience, as the Brazilian upper-class was wedded either to Catholicism or to secularism. By 1914, Protestant churches founded by American missionaries had 47,000 communicants, served by 282 missionaries. In general, these missionaries were more successful than they had been in Mexico, Argentina or elsewhere in Latin America.
The Catholic Church was disestablished in 1890, and responded by increasing the number of dioceses and the efficiency of its clergy. Many Protestants came from a large German immigrant community, but they were seldom engaged in proselytizing and grew by natural increase. Most Protestants came from missionary activities sponsored from United States and Europe. There were 700,000 Protestants by 1930, and increasingly they were in charge of their own affairs. In 1930, the Methodist Church of Brazil became independent of the missionary societies and elected its own bishop. Protestants were largely from a working-class, but their networks help speed their upward social mobility.
Protestantism, which has resisted syncretism more than other Christian churches have in the diverse country, established a significant presence in Brazil during the first half of the 20th century and grew during the second half. Protestants accounted for fewer than 5% of the population until the 1960s, but by 2000 made up over 15% of those affiliated with a church. Pentecostals and charismatic groups account for most of this expansion. With their emphasis on personal salvation and moral codes as well as less ideological approach to politics, these groups have developed broad appeal, particularly among the booming urban migrant communities. The political consequences of this shift are still poorly understood, as the fragmentation of the Protestant community after the late 1970s has weakened it as a vehicle for direct political action.
After centuries of persecution under the Portuguese colonial rule, which was successful in consolidating Catholicism in the country, Protestant denominations saw a rapid growth in their number of followers since the last decades of the 20th century. If the number of Protestants continues to increase at the same pace it has for the past decades, by 2022 Catholics will be a minority in a country that was about 90 percent Catholic in 1980. According to a Catholic study 600,000 of their members convert annually to a Protestant denomination.
According to the 2000 Census, 15.4% of the Brazilian population was Protestant. A recent research conducted by the Datafolha institute shows that 25% of Brazilians are Protestants, of which 19% are followers of Pentecostal denominations. The 2010 Census found that 22.2% were Protestant.
Until the late 1970s, the majority of Brazilian Protestants belonged to one of the traditional churches – Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists mainly – but the Pentecostals, especially from neo-charismatic churches linked to the prosperity doctrine, have increased largely since then. There is also Seventh-day Adventist educational system with over 475 elementary schools, 67 secondary schools, two colleges and a university.
According to 2000 IBGE Census, the following are the biggest Protestant denominations in Brazil. Only those with more than half a million members are listed.
- Assemblies of God (Assembléias de Deus): 8,418,140 (5.0%)
- General Convention of the Assemblies of God (Affiliated with the US Assemblies of God, Springfield, MO): 3.6 million.
- National Convention of the Assemblies of God (A.k.a. Madureira Ministry of the Assemblies of God): 2.5 million.
- Other independent Assemblies of God, such as Bethesda Assemblies of God: 1.9 million
- Baptists: 3,162,691 (1.9%)
- Brazilian Baptist Convention (Affiliated to US Southern Baptists and BWA body member): 1.4 million adherents
- National Baptist Convention (Charismatics Baptists and BWA body member): 1 million.
- Independent Baptist Convention (Scandinavian Baptists): 400,000.
- Other Baptists: 300,000
- Christian Congregation of Brazil (Italian-Brazilian Pentecostals): 2.6 million (1.5%)
- Adventists: 1.8 million (1.0%)
- Seventh-day Adventist Church: 1.6 million
- Promise Adventist Church (Brazilian Pentecostal Adventists): 150,000
- Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement: 50,000
- Other Adventists: 100,000
- Foursquare Gospel Church (Classic Pentecostals in US, but second-wave Pentecostals in Brazil): 1,318,805 (0.8%)
- Lutherans: 1 mIllion (0.6%)
- Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil
- Other Lutherans
- Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 1,011,300
- Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 85,000
- Renewed Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 131,000 www.iprb.org.br
- Conservative Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 6,000 www.ipcb.org.br
- Fundamentalist Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 1,800
- United Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 3,466
- Evangelical Reformed Church in Brazil: 2,500
- Reformed Churches in Brazil
- Hungarian Reformed Church
- Swiss Evangelical Church
- Arab Evangelical Church
- Evangelical Congregational Church in Brazil: 50,000
- United Congregational Churches in Brazil: 50,000
- Reformed Anglican Church in Brazil www.igrejaanglicana.com.br
- Comunhao Reformada Battista no Brasil - reformed baptists in Brazil
- International Church of God's Grace (Igreja Internacional da Graça de Deus): 500,000 Neo-Pentecostal Movement
- Methodists: 340,963 (0.201%)
- Methodist Church of Brazil (Affiliated to US United Methodist Church): 200,000
- Wesleyan Methodist Church (Brazilian Pentecostal Methodists): 100,000
- Other Methodists: 40,000
- Alderi Souza de Matos, A FRANÇA ANTÁRTICA E A CONFISSÃO DE FÉ DA GUANABARA Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie 2011.
- Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity: volume V: The great century in the Americas, Austral-Asia, and Africa: A.D. 1800-A.D. 1914 (1943) 5:120-3
- Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity: Volume VII: Advance through Storm: A.D. 1914 and after, with concluding generalizations (1945) 7:181-2
- Erasmo Braga and Kenneth G. Trubb, The Republic of Brazil: A survey of the religious situation (1932)
- John P. Medcraft. The Roots and Fruits of Brazilian Pentecostalism. „Vox Evangelica”. 17, s. 66-94, 1987.
- Reel, Monte (2005-04-14). "Brazil's Priests Use Song and Dance To Stem Catholic Church's Decline". The Washington Post.
- Adventist Atlas
- Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo
- article from Adventist News Network
- As Adventist Church in Brazil grows, so do schools
- Birman, Patrícia, and Márcia Pereira Leite. "Whatever Happened to What Used to Be the Largest Catholic Country in the World?," Daedalus (2000) 129#2 pp. 271-290 in JSTOR
- Burdick, John. " Why is the Black Evangelical Movement Growing in Brazil?" Journal of Latin American Studies (2005) 37#2 pp 311-332.
- Chesnut, R. Andrew. "The Salvation Army or the Army's Salvation?: Pentecostal Politics in Amazonian Brazil, 1962-1992," Luso-Brazilian Review (1999) 36#2 pp 33-49
- Chesnut, R. Andrew. Born Again in Brazil: The Pentecostal Boom and the Pathogens of Poverty (1997) excerpt and text search
- Corten, Andre. Pentecostalism in Brazil: Emotion of the Poor and Theological Romanticism (1999) excertp and text search
- Freston, Paul. "Neo-Pentecostalism" in Brazil: Problems of Definition and the Struggle for Hegemony," Archives de sciences sociales des religions (1999) 44#105 pp. 145-162 in JSTOR
- Londono, Diana. "Evangelicals in Brazil," Hemispheric Affairs Dec. 5, 2012
- Willems, Emilio. "Protestantism as a Factor of Culture Change in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change (1955) 3#4 pp. 321-333 in JSTOR
- Brazilian Evangelical Rally Draws 3 Million – beliefnet.com
- Pope Visits Brazil, Church Loses Ground – ABC News
- Catholic Church Losing Followers in Droves – Inter Press Service
- Rising Protestant tide sweeps Catholic Brazil – Reuters
- Protestants making inroads in Brazil, world's most populous Catholic country – WWRN
- Census reveals more Protestants in Brazil – latinamericanstudies.org
- Brazilians embrace Protestant faiths – BBC News
- Pope heads to Brazil where church losing ground – USA Today
- Pragmatic Protestants Winning Converts in Brazil – The New York Times