Protestantism in Portugal

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Protestantism in Portugal has long been a minority religion, since for most of the country's history few non-Roman Catholics existed; those who did could not practice their religion freely. They had been kept out of the country for three centuries by the Inquisition.

However, the British began settling in Portugal in the nineteenth century brought other Christian denominations with them. Most belonged to the Anglican Church of England, but others were Protestant Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.

The establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1834 granted limited religious toleration to, and consequently led to the opening of an Anglican chapel in Lisbon. A second chapel was opened in 1868. The Anglican mission coincided with the growing influence of the Old Catholic movement in Portugal. Congregations were created from Roman Catholic priests and laypeople who refused to accept the dogmas of the infallibility and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Pope, as defined by the First Vatican Council in 1870. The Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church was formed as a result in 1880, however laws still restricted the activities of non-Roman Catholics.

By the early 1990s, only some 50,000 to 60,000 Anglicans and Protestants lived in Portugal, less than 1 percent of the total population. The 1950s and 1960s saw the arrival of Pentecostals who increased in numbers more rapidly than the earlier arrivals did. All groups, however, were hampered by prohibitions and restrictions against the free exercise of their religions, especially missionary activities.

These restrictions were lifted after the Revolution of 1974. The constitution of 1976 guarantees all religions the right to practice their faith. Non-Roman Catholic groups came to be recognized as legal entities with the right to assemble. Portuguese who were both not Roman Catholics and were conscientious objectors had the right to apply for alternative military service.