Religion in Brazil

Religion in Brazil

Religion in Brazil is very diversified, although over seventy percent of the population declared being Roman Catholic in the last IBGE census, which took place in 2000. About ninety percent of Brazilians declare some sort of religious affiliation [ [$File/Opp992-criacionismo.pdf Opp992-poca-list ] ] .

According to the IBGE census referenced below:
*74% of Brazilians (about 150 million) declared being followers of Roman Catholicism;
*15.4% (about 25 million) declared being followers of Protestantism;
*7.4% (about 12 million) consider themselves agnostics, atheists or having no religious affiliation;
*1.3% (about 2.2 million) are followers of Spiritism;
*0.3% are followers of African traditional religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda;
*1.7% are members of other religions.

Brazil has a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses (about 1,100,000) and Latter-day Saints (about 1,000,000) [ [ "Country Profiles: Brazil"] , Newsroom, Accessed on 2007-04-09 ] nowadays, which entered in the field of Protestants in the census referenced above. Among the field of "other religions" were Buddhists (415,000), Jewish people (300,000), and Muslims (27,000). In the same field were those who practice a mixture of different religions, such as Catholicism, Candomblé, and indigenous American religions.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Religion in Brazil | work = | publisher = IBGE | date = 2000 | url = | format = pdf | doi = | accessdate = 2007-04-24 ]


Brazil's main religion since the 16th century has been Christianity, predominantly Roman Catholicism. This religion was introduced by the missionaries who accompanied the Portuguese explorers and settlers of Brazil. Brazil has the largest number of baptized Roman Catholics on Earth — about 74% of Brazilians claiming to be Catholics.

Popular traditions of Roman Catholicism in Brazil include pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida ("Nossa Senhora Aparecida"), the patron saint of Brazil. Other prominent festivals include Círio in Belém and the Festa do Divino in central Brazil.

Brazil also has many other offshoots of Christianity. 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. Protestantism is generally the only religion in Brazil relatively free of syncretism. 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 contryside regions of the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a membership nearing 1 million nowadays, [ [ "Country Profiles: Brazil"] , Newsroom, Accessed on 2007-04-09. ] or about 0.4% of the population; however in the 2000 census, only 199,645 people said they belonged to that denomination. Also, there were about 1.1 million Jehovah's Witnesses in the census. And a sizable Eastern Orthodox Christian population at 50,000; is made of churches brought over by waves of Albanian, Armenian, Greek, Lebanese, Syrian, Russian and Ukrainian immigrants in the past century. Fact|date=August 2007There is also a important presence of Seventh-day Adventists.

Religion's Graphic

Proportion of Brazilians by religion: The largest proportion of Catholics is concentrated in Northeast (79.9%) and South (77.4%). The State of Piauí has the largest proportion of Catholics, exactly (90,03%), and the State of Rio de Janeiro has the smallest proportion of Catholics, exactly (56,19%). The Region of Brazil with the smallest proportion of Catholics is the Center-West (69.1%) Between the capitals, Teresina has the largest proportion of Catholics in the country, exactly (86.09%), followed by Aracaju, Fortaleza, Florianópolis and João Pessoa; [ [ Folha Online - Mundo - Estagnação econômica explica recuo do catolicismo no Brasil, diz FGV - 20/04/2005 ] ] [ [ IBGE :: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística ] ] The largest proportion of Protestants is concentrated in North (19.8%), Center-West (18.9%), and Southeast (17.5%). Between the capitals, Rio de Janeiro has the largest proportion of Protestant Traditionals in the country, exactly (10.07%), followed by Vitória, Porto Velho, Cuiabá and Manaus. But, Goiânia has the largest proportion, between the capitals, of Protestant Pentecostals in the country, exactly (20.41%), followed by Boa Vista, Porto Velho, Belém and Belo Horizonte; [ [ 64% dos brasileiros se declaram católicos ] ] [ [,,MUL41764-5598,00.html G1 > Brasil - NOTÍCIAS - Em 60 anos, Brasil ficou mais mestiço, evangélico e 'casado' ] ] The largest proportion of Jews is concentrated in the States of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; [ [ Imigrantes: Judeus ] ] The largest proportion of Muslims is concentrated in the States of São Paulo and Paraná. [ Brazil ] ]

African and Indigenous Religions

African syncretic religions such as Candomblé have many followers, mainly Afro-Brazilians. They are concentrated mainly in large urban centers in the Northeast, such as Salvador (Bahia), Recife, or Rio de Janeiro in the Southeast. The capitals of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina have a great number of followers too, but in the South of Brazil the most common African influenced Ritual is Almas e Angola, which is an Umbanda like ritual. Nowadays in Santa Catarina's capital there are over 70 "Terreiros", 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 Kardecist spiritism, Indigenous and African beliefs.There's still lots of prejudice about "African cults" in Brazil's south, but there are lots of Catholics, Protestants and other kinds of Christians who also believe in the Orishas, so they use to go both to Churches and Terreiros.

Candomblé, 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 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 is also 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.


Islam in Brazil was first practiced by African slaves. Today, the Muslim population in Brazil is made up of mostly Arab immigrants. There are approximately fifty-five mosques and Muslim religious centers.

Other Religions

There are small populations of people professing Buddhism, Rastafarian, Shinto, Judaism, Islam and a few other religions. Except the Jews, who have been in Brazil since the early 1600s, most of the other people who practice these minority religions are 20th century immigrants from East Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, or of recent immigrant descent. Seven percent of the population consider themselves agnostics or atheists, while the remainder call themselves Christians. 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.

Table of Religions in Brazil

According to the Demographic Census taken in 2000. This table was copied from the Portuguese Wikipedia, source: [ Religião no Brasil]


ee also

* Roman Catholicism in Brazil
* Protestantism in Brazil
* Islam in Brazil
* Judaism in Brazil
* Bahá'í Faith in Brazil

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