Religion in Brazil
||It has been suggested that Irreligion in Brazil be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since September 2012.|
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Religion in Brazil has a higher adherence level compared to other Latin American countries, and is more diverse. The dominant religion of Brazil historically was and still is Christianity. Brazil possesses a richly spiritual society formed from the meeting of the Roman Catholic Church with the religious traditions of African slaves and indigenous peoples. This confluence of faiths during the Portuguese colonization of Brazil led to the development of a diverse array of syncretistic practices within the overarching umbrella of Brazilian Roman Catholicism, characterized by traditional Portuguese festivities. Until recently Catholicism was overwhelmingly dominant. Rapid change in the 21st century has led to a growth in secularism (no religious affiliation), and evangelical Protestantism to over 22% of the population. The 2010 census indicates that under 65% of Brazilians consider themselves Catholic, down from 90% in 1970, leading Cardinal Cláudio Hummes to comment, "We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country?"
In 1891, when the first Brazilian Republican Constitution was set forth, Brazil ceased to have an official religion and has remained secular ever since, though the Catholic Church remained politically influential into the 1970s. The Constitution of Brazil guarantees freedom of religion and strongly prohibits the establishment of any religion by banning government support or hindrance of religion at all levels. In the 2010 census 64.6% of the population declared themselves as Roman Catholic, 22.2% as Protestant, 8% as non religious, and 5.2% as followers of other religions (mostly Spiritists or Kardecists who follow the doctrines of Allan Kardec, Umbandists, Candomblers, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and minorities of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and other groups).
Brazilian religions are very diversified and inclined to syncretism. In recent decades, there has been a great increase of Neo-Pentecostal churches and a thriving of Afro-Brazilian religions, which have decreased the number of members of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also important to notice how the number of Umbandists and Candomblers could be significantly higher than the official census figure, since many of them continue to this day to disguise their religion under "Roman Catholic" syncretism. About ninety percent of Brazilians declared some sort of religious affiliation in the most recent census.
- Roman Catholicism: 123.000.000 - 64.6%
- Protestantism: 42.300.000 - 22.2%
- No religion: 15.000.000 - 8%
- Other religions: 9.300.000 - 5.2%
Brazil has the largest number of Catholics in the world. Roman Catholicism has been Brazil's main religion since the beginning of the 16th century. It was introduced among the Native Brazilians by Jesuits missionaries and also observed by all the Portuguese first settlers.
During colonial times, there was no freedom of religion. All Portuguese settlers and Brazilians were compulsorily bound to the Roman Catholic faith and forced to pay taxes to the church. After the Brazilian independence, the first constitution introduced freedom of religion in 1824, but Roman Catholicism was kept as the official religion. The Imperial Government paid a salary to Catholic priests and influenced the appointment of bishops. The political-administrative division of the municipalities accompanied the hierarchical division of the bishoprics in "freguesias" (parishes). There was also some hindrances to the construction of temples and cemeteries that belonged to the Catholic Church. The first Republican Constitution in 1891 separated religion from state and made all religions equal in the Codes of Law, but the Catholic Church remained very influential until the 1970s. For example, due to the strong opposition of the Catholic Church, divorce was not allowed in Brazil until 1977 even if a separated couple observed a different religion.
The Catholicism practiced in Brazil is full of popular festivities rooted in centuries-old Portuguese traditions, but also heavily influenced by African and Native Brazilian usage. Popular traditions include pilgrimages to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (Nossa Senhora Aparecida), the patron saint of Brazil, and religious festivals like the "Círio de Nazaré" in Belém and the "Festa do Divino" in many cities of Central Brazil. Areas that received many European immigrants in the last century, specially Italian and German, have Catholic traditions closer to that practiced in Europe.
The largest proportion of Catholics is concentrated in the Northeast (79.9%) and South (77.4%) regions. The smallest proportion of Catholics is found in the Center-West region (69.1%). The State of Piauí has the largest proportion of Catholics (90.03%) and the State of Rio de Janeiro has the smallest one (56.19%). Among the state capitals, Teresina has the largest proportion of Catholics in the country (86.010%), followed by Aracaju, Fortaleza, Florianópolis and João Pessoa.
Protestantism in Brazil largely originated with American missionaries in the second half of the 19th century, following up on efforts that began in the 1830s. Evangelical Protestantism and Pentecostalism has grown very rapidly in Brazil since the late 20th century, and now reach over 20% of the population. Brazil has many versions of Protestantism. These include neo-Pentecostalists, old Pentecostalists and Traditional Protestants (most of them Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists) predominantly from Minas Gerais to the South. In the same region, mainly Minas Gerais and São Paulo, large sections of the middle class, about 1-2% of the total population, is Kardecist, sometimes pure, sometimes in syncretism with Roman Catholicism. The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, part of the Anglican Communion, has some 120,000 members. Centers of neo-Pentecostalism are Londrina in Paraná state, as well the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais), especially the suburban and nearby areas of these cities. Lutherans are concentrated mostly in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and in countryside regions of the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.
The largest proportion of Protestants is found in North (19.8%), Central-West (18.9%) and Southeast (17.5%) regions. Among the state capitals, Rio de Janeiro has the largest proportion of non-Pentecostal Protestants in the country (10.07%), followed by Vitória, Porto Velho, Cuiabá and Manaus. But Goiânia is the state capital with the largest proportion of Pentecostal Protestants in the country (20.41%), followed by Boa Vista, Porto Velho, Belém and Belo Horizonte.
In 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported a membership of 1,173,533, with 1,940 congregations and 315 family history centers. The LDS Church now also has 6 temples spread out across the nation, in Campinas, Curitiba, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, and São Paulo, with an additional temple under construction in Fortaleza. This represents a dramatic differential from the 2010 national census that reported 226,509 self-identifying members, causing some LDS church critics to question the membership numbers reported by the LDS church.
Spiritism, with almost 4 million adherents im 2010, is the second largest Religion of Brazil, followed by Afro-Brazilian Religions like Umbanda, Candomblé and others with almost 600,000 adherents. There are small populations of people professing Buddhism (215,000), Judaism (107,000), Islam (35,000), Shinto, Rastafarian and a few other religions. They comprise 20th century immigrants from East Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, or of recent immigrant descent.
One of the most unusual features of the rich Brazilian spiritual landscape are the sects which use ayahuasca (an Amazonian entheogenic tea), including Santo Daime, União do Vegetal, and Centro de Cultura Cósmica.
This syncretism, coupled with ideas prevalent during the military dicatorship, has resulted in a church for the secular, based on philosopher Auguste Comte's principles of positivism, based at the Positivist Church of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.
African and Indigenous Religions
Afro-Brazilian religions are syncretic religions, such as Candomblé, that have many followers, mainly Afro-Brazilians. They are concentrated mainly in large urban centers in the Northeast, such as Salvador, Recife, or Rio de Janeiro in the Southeast. The cities of São Paulo, Porto Alegre and Florianópolis have a great number of followers, but in the South of Brazil the most common African influenced Ritual is Almas e Angola, which is an Umbanda like ritual. Nowadays, there are over 70 "Terreiros" in Florianópolis, which are the places where the rituals run. In addition to Candomblé which is the survival of West African religion, there is also Umbanda which blends Spiritism, Indigenous and African beliefs. There is prejudice about "African cults" in Brazil's south, but there are Catholics, Protestants and other kinds of Christians who also believe in the Orishas, and go both to Churches and Terreiros.
Candomblé, Umbanda, Batuque, Xango, and Tambor de Mina, were originally brought by black slaves shipped from Africa to Brazil. These black slaves would summon their gods, called Orixas, Voduns or Inkices with chants and dances they had brought from Africa. These cults were persecuted throughout most of Brazilian history, largely because they were believed to be pagan or even satanic. However, the Brazilian republican government legalized all of them on the grounds of the necessary separation between the State and the Church in 1889.
In current practice, Umbanda followers leave offerings of food, candles and flowers in public places for the spirits. Candomblé terreiros are more hidden from general view, except in famous festivals such as Iyemanja Festival and the Waters of Oxala in the Northeast.
From Bahia northwards there are different practices such as Catimbo, Jurema with heavy Indigenous elements. All over the country, but mainly in the Amazon rainforest, there are many Indians still practicing their original traditions. Many of their beliefs and use of naturally occurring plant derivatives are incorporated into African, Spirtitualists and folk religion.
Despite these religions have experienced much greater freedom since the decline of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, they have come under an increasing pressure from Pentecostal churches, with attacks to temples and defacement of statues of the gods. In recent years measures have been taken to counter religious conflict.
Buddhism is probably the largest of all minority religions, with about 215,000 followers. This is mostly because of the large Japanese Brazilian community. About a fifth of the Japanese Brazilian community are followers of Buddhism. Japanese Buddhist sects like Nichiren Buddhism (most notably the Soka Gakkai), Jodo Shinshu and Zen are the most popular. Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) is also present, since Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche founded the Khadro Ling center in Três Coroas, Rio Grande do Sul (where he lived until his death in 2002), and many other institutions across the country. However in recent years both Chinese Mahayana and South East Asian Theraveda sects are gaining popularity. Buddhism was introduced to Brazil in the early twentieth century, by Japanese immigrants, although now, 60% of Japanese Brazilians are now Christian due to missionary activities and intermarriage. Nevertheless, Japanese Brazilian culture has a substantial Buddhist influence.
The first Jews arrived in Brazil as cristãos-novos (New Christians) or conversos, names applied to Jews or Muslims who converted to Catholicism, most of them forcibly. According to the Inquisition reports, many New Christians living in Brazil during colonial times were condemned for secretly observing Jewish customs.
In 1630, the Dutch conquered portions of northeast Brazil and permitted the open practice of any religion. Many Jews came from the Netherlands to live in Brazil in the area dominated by the Dutch. Most of them were descendants of the Portuguese Jews who had been expelled from Portugal in 1497. In 1636, the Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, the first synagogue in the Americas was built in Recife, the capital of Dutch Brazil. The original building remains to this day, but the Jews were forced to leave Brazil when the Portuguese-Brazilians retook the land in 1654.
The first Jews that stayed in Brazil and openly practiced their religion came when the first Brazilian constitution granted freedom of religion in 1824, just after the independence. They were mainly Moroccan Jews, descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497.
The first wave of Sephardic Jews was exceeded by the larger wave of immigration by Ashkenazi Jews that came at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, mainly from Russia, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. A final significant group came, fleeing Nazism or the destruction that followed World War II.
According to the 2010 Census, there were 35,167 Muslims in Brazil. Islam in Brazil may be presumed to have first been practiced by African slaves brought from West Africa. Scholars note that Brazil received more enslaved Muslims than anywhere else in the Americas. During Ramadan, in January 1835, a small group of black slaves and freedmen from Salvador da Bahia, inspired by Muslim teachers, rose up against the government in the Malê Revolt, the largest slave rebellion in Brazil. (Muslims were called malê in Bahia at this time, from Yoruba imale that designated a Yoruba Muslim.) Fearing the example might be followed, the Brazilian authorities began to watch the malês very carefully and in subsequent years intensive efforts were made to force conversions to Catholicism and erase the popular memory of and affection towards Islam. However, the African Muslim community was not erased overnight, and as late as 1910 it is estimated there were still some 100,000 African Muslims living in Brazil.
A recent trend has been the increase in conversions to Islam among non-Arab citizens. A recent Muslim source estimated that there are close to 10,000 Muslim converts living in Brazil. Muslim community leaders in Brazil estimated that there were between 70,000 and 300,000 Muslims, with the lower figure representing those who actively practiced their religion, while the higher estimate would include also nominal members.
Most of the Brazilian Hindus are ethnic East Indians.
First wave of Immigration- A small number of Sindhis had arrived here from Suriname and Central America in 1960 to set up shop as traders in the city of Manaus.
Second wave of Immigration Consisted of university professors who arrived in the 1960s and also in the 1970s.
Other PIOs migrated to this country from various African countries, mainly from former Portuguese colonies (especially Mozambique), soon after their independence in the 1970s. The number of PIOs in Brazil has been augmented in recent years by the arrival of nuclear scientists and computer professionals.
There are as many as 1,500 PIOs among the Indian community in Brazil, and only 400 NRIs, since foreign nationals can acquire local citizenship without any discrimination after 15 years of domicile in this country. Brazil has also no bar against dual citizenship. But in recent years, it has been granting immigration visas only in high technology fields. The only exceptions are the Sindhis in Manaus (who have formed an Indian Association with about a hundred members) and the Goans in São Paulo.
The Bahá'í Faith in Brazil started in 1919 with Bahá'ís first visiting the country that year, and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in Brazil was established in 1928. There followed a period of growth with the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Brazilian converts and in 1961 an independent national Bahá'í community was formed. During the 1992 Earth Summit, which was held in Brazil, the international and local Bahá'í community were given the responsibility for organizing a series of different programs, and since then the involvements of the Bahá'í community in the country have continued to multiply. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 42211 Bahá'ís in 2005.
A 2007 poll, made by Datafolha and published in newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, asked diverse questions about the beliefs of the Brazilian people. In this poll, 64% reported to be Catholics, 17% Pentecostal Protestants, 5% non-Pentecostal Protestants, 3% Kardecists or Spiritists, 3% followers of other religions, 7% non-religious or atheists. Less than 1% reported to follow Afro-Brazilian religions.
- Belief in God and the Devil
- 97% Of Brazilians reported to believe in God; 2% have doubts and 1% do not believe in God.
- 75% Reported to believe in the Devil, 9% have doubts and 15% do not believe in the Devil.
- 81% Of non-religious reported to believe in God.
- About Jesus Christ
- 93% Reported they believe Jesus Christ rose after death; 92% that the Holy Spirit exists; 87% in the occurrence of miracles; 86% that Mary gave birth to Jesus as a virgin; 77% that Jesus will return to Earth at the end of time; 65% that the sacramental bread is the body of Jesus; 64% that after death some people go to Heaven; 58% that after death some people go to Hell and 60% that there is life after death.
- Belief in saints
- 57% Believe there are saints.
- 49% Pray for the intercession of a saint (68% among self-declared Catholics).
- 18% Pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida (26% among Catholics); Saint Anthony, Saint Expeditus (5% each), Saint George (3%), Saint Jude, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Joseph (2% each).
- About the Catholic priests
- 51% Believe some priests respect chastity, 31% most, 8% none and 4% they all do.
- 66% That priests should be allowed to marry (59% among Catholics and 94% among followers of Candomblé).
- About the sexual abuse scandals involving priests, 38% believe some of the complaints are true, 30% most are, 21% all are and 4% none of them.
- About different religions
- About the sentence "Catholics do not practice their religion", 19% reported to agree completely and 41% agreed, but not completely.
- About the sentence "the Protestants are misled by their priests", 61% agreed (77% among the Kardecists, 67% among Catholics and 45% among Protestants).
- About the sentence "Umbanda is a Devil thing", 57% agreed (83% among Evangelical Protestants, 53% among Catholics and 12% among Umbandists).
- About the sentence "Jews only think about money", 49% agreed.
- About the sentence "Muslims advocate terrorism", 49% agreed.
Table of Religions in Brazil
|Religion or faith||Total||"by region"||"by gender"|
|Roman Catholics (total)||125.518.774||73,89||98.939.872||71,73||26.578.903||83,20||62.171.584||74,37||63.347.189||73,43|
|·||Roman Catholic Church||124.980.132||73,57||98.475.959||71,40||26.504.174||82,96||61.901.888||74,04||63.078.244||73,12|
|·||Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church||500.582||0,295||430.245||0,312||70.337||0,220||250.201||0,299||250.380||0,290|
|Greek Orthodox Church||38.060||0,022||33.668||0,024||4.392||0,014||19.495||0,023||18.565||0,022|
|Protestant Churches (total)||26.184.941||15,41||22.736.910||16,48||3.448.031||10,79||11.444.063||13,69||14.740.878||17,09|
|·||Missionaries - traditional Protestantism (total)||6.939.765||4,085||6.008.100||4,356||931.665||2,916||3.062.194||3,663||3.877.571||4,495|
|·||·||Seventh-day Adventist Church||1.209.842||0,712||1.029.949||0,747||179.893||0,563||538.981||0,645||670.860||0,778|
|·||·||Assembly of God||8.418.140||4,956||6.857.429||4,972||1.560.711||4,885||3.804.658||4,551||4.613.482||5,348|
|·||·||Christian Congregation of Brazil||2.489.113||1,465||2.148.941||1,558||340.172||1,065||1.130.329||1,352||1.358.785||1,575|
|·||·||Universal Church of the Kingdom of God||2.101.887||1,237||1.993.488||1,445||108.399||0,339||800.227||0,957||1.301.660||1,509|
|·||·||International Church of the Foursquare Gospel||1.318.805||0,776||1.253.276||0,909||65.529||0,205.5214||545.016||0,6526445||773.789||0,897|
|·||·||God is Love Pentecostal Church||774.830||0,456||649.252||0,471||125.577||0,393||331.707||0,397||443.123||0,514|
|·||·||Igreja Cristã Maranata||277.342||0,163||266.539||0,193||10.803||0,034||117.789||0,141||159.553||0,185|
|·||·||Brazil for Christ Pentecostal Church||175.618||0,103||159.713||0,116||15.904||0,050||76.132||0,091||99.485||0,115|
|·||·||Igreja Tabernáculo Evangélico de Jesus||128.676||0,076||120.891||0,088||7.785||0,024||51.557||0,062||77.119||0,089|
|·||·||Igreja Cristã de Nova Vida||92.315||0,054||91.008||0,066||1.307||0,004||35.352||0,042||56.964||0,066|
|·||no institutional links (total)||1.046.487||0,616||945.874||0,686||100.612||0,315||454.087||0,543||592.400||0,687|
|Other Christian (total)||1.540.064||0,907||1.441.888||1,045||98.175||0,307||646.264||0,773||893.800||1,036|
|·||Latter-day Saints (Mormons)||199.645||0,118||195.198||0,142||4.446||0,014||92.197||0,110||107.448||0,125|
|New Eastern Religions (total)||151.080||0,089||145.914||0,106||5.166||0,016||58.784||0,070||92.295||0,107|
|·||Church of World Messianity||109.310||0,064||106.467||0,077||2.843||0,009||41.478||0,050||67.831||0,079|
|Native Brazilian Traditions||17.088||0,010||6.463||0,005||10.625||0,033||9.175||0,011||7.913||0,009|
|Other Eastern Religions||7.832||0,005||7.244||0,005||588||0,002||3.764||0,005||4.068||0,005|
- Demographics of Brazil
- Roman Catholicism in Brazil
- Protestantism in Brazil
- Islam in Brazil
- Judaism in Brazil
- Bahá'í Faith in Brazil
- IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics). 2010 Census. Accessed 07.08.2012.
- Facts of Basilica of Aparecida
- "Brazil". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Simon Romero, "A Laboratory for Revitalizing Catholicism," New York Times Feb 14, 2013
- Michael Astor. Once-Barred Practice Flourishes in Brazil. African-Influenced Candomble Challenged by Pentecostals, Modern Interpretations. The Washington Post, January 1, 2005; Page B07. Accessed: August 8, 2012.
- Decreased the number of Catholic and African religions. Increased the number of Protestants (Census 2000)
- Somer Wiggins. Followers of Brazil’s Umbanda religion worship despite discrimination. July 2, 2012. McClatchy. Accessed August 8, 2012.
- IBOPE - Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião e Estatística. Pesquisa de Opinião Pública sobre Criacionismo. Dec. 2004. Accessed 2008-11-03
- IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics). 2000 Census. Accessed 2007-04-24
- Folha Online - Mundo. Estagnação econômica explica recuo do catolicismo no Brasil, diz FGV. 2005-04-20
- IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics). Notícias - Estudo revela 60 anos de transformações sociais no país. Accessed 2008-11-03.
- Patrícia Birman, 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
- Folha de São Paulo. 64% dos brasileiros se declaram católicos
- G1 - Globo.com. Brasil - Notícias - Em 60 anos, Brasil ficou mais mestiço, evangélico e "casado"
- "Brazil - LDS Statistics and Church Facts". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "População residente, por situação do domicílio e sexo, segundo os grupos de religião - Brasil - 2010". Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Orthodox Church in Brazil
- Positive Church Official Web Site
- Neo-Pentecostalism and Afro-Brazilian religions: explaining the attacks on symbols of the African religious heritage in contemporary Brazil. Translation from: Mana, Rio de Janeiro, v.13 n.1, p. 207-236, Apr. 2007.
- Oreck, Alden. The Virtual Jewish History Tour: Brazil. Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed 2008-06-09
- Synagogue in Brazilian town Recife considered oldest in the Americas. Haaretz 2007-11-12. Accessed 2008-06-09
- Friedman, Saul. Jews and the American Slave Trade, p. 60. Transaction Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-7658-0660-6
- American Jewish Committee. American Jewish Year Book 2007. Vol. 107. To see chapter used, see "World Jewish Population, 2007"
- Terra Brasileira website. Imigrantes: Judeus
- Lovejoy, Paul E., Muslim Encounters With Slavery in Brazil, Markus Wiener Pub., 2007. ISBN 1-55876-378-3.
- Joao Jose Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, Johns Hopkins University Press, London 1993
- Steven Barboza, American Jihad, 1993
- "Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor International Religious Freedom Report 2009" October 26, 2009, US Department of State report on Brazil
- Oliveira, Vitória Peres de. Islam in Brazil or the Islam of Brazil?. Translated by Jeffrey Hoff. Relig. soc. [online]. 2006, vol.2, Special Edition [cited 25 October 2007]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-85872006000200002&lng=en&nrm=iso>. ISSN 0100-8587.
- Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America: M L VanOrman Enterprises.
- "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Data Folha - Opinião Pública. 64% dos brasileiros se declaram católicos 2007-05-05. Accessed 200-11-03
- Renascença Website. Quase todos os brasileiros acreditam em Deus
- 97% dos Brasileiros Dizem Acreditar totalmente na Existência de Deus e 75% Acreditam no Diabo
- IBGE - Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics). Table 2102 - Resident population according to home, religion and gender, Census of 2000.