Religion in Brazil
Brazil, or officially the Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in both South America and the Latin America region. It is the world’s fifth largest country, both bygeographical area and by population over 190 million people It is the largest Lusophone, or portugese-speaking, country in the world, and the only one in the Americas. Religion plays a major role in the lives of most of the people in this largest South American county. Here are some interesting Brazil facts: Around ninety percent of this population identifies with some sort of religion, making it more religiously inclined than any other South American country.
Only around 1% of its population do not believe in a God, or a supreme being in some form or another. The Brazilian Constitution of 1889 declared that there was no official religion in Brazil, so everyone was free to believe as they liked. That’s why, just like the USA, Brazil can practice freedom of religion according to the newest constitution that was adopted in 1988. Brazil’s religious make-up can be traced to the diverse groups of people who came in various forms – natives, invaders, immigrants, and slaves. In terms of Christian religions, the main churches in Brazil are: • Catholic Protestant • Methodist • Episcopal • Pentecostal • Lutheran • Baptist Its religious inclination is also extremely diverse, despite the fact that around three-quarters of the population claim to be Roman Catholics. In fact, there are more Catholics in Brazil than in any other country in the world. The Portuguese brought with them, not just the language (this medical tourism hub is the only country inSouth America not dominated by Spanish), but also Roman Catholicism. Catholicism was introduced to Brazil when the European settlers arrived with the aim of ‘civilising’ the local native people.
They built churches and brought religious leaders into the country to teach young and old alike the doctrines of Catholicism. During the 19th century, Catholicism was made the official religion of Brazil. This meant that Catholic priests were paid a salary by the government, including them in the political affairs of the country. As such, Catholicism became an integral part of the management and administration of Brazil and its people. Many of the Brazilian festivals are based on the Catholic religion. Protestantism is the second largest branch in Brazil religion.
Those who are Christian but not Catholic are considered Protestant. Only about 15% of Brazilians claim to follow a Protestant faith of some kind. There are many branches of Christianity in Brazil. Among them the most popular are Baptist, Methodist, Neo-Pentecostalists, Old Pentecostalists, Presbyterian, Anglican and Episcopal Churches. Other Protestant beliefs and offshoots that make up smaller portions of “Christians” are Kardecist, Lutherans. The largest population of Protestants are found in North, Central-West and Southeast Brazil. The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the third largest Brazil religion.
They boast a membership of over one million one hundred thousand with almost two thousand congregations and 309 family history centers. Five temples are stretched across Brazil. Jehovah’s Witnesses is the fourth largest religion in Brazil. They have over 700,000 members. Eastern Orthodox makes up the fifth largest religion in the country with over 500,000 members that came over with their Armenian, Greek, Lebanese, Russian, Syrian and Ukrainian immigrants in the past one hundred years. When the Portuguese landed in Brazil, the country was populated by native Indians who had their own traditional religious practices.
In the regions just north of Bahia, indigenous tribes still practice the Catimbo religion; a sect that is heavily influenced by spirits, shamanism, and omens. When African slaves began to be imported into Brazil, they brought with them their religious practices, many of which involved invoking the gods through chants or dances. Over time, these Afro Brazilian religious practices began mingling with Catholic and Protestant influences to create synthetic religions. Some of the more popular exponents include Candomble, which has a huge following in urban centers like Rio de Janeiro, and Umbanda.
Spiritism is also one of the significant, although minor, religions in Brazil. Spiritistic practices are based largely on ancient Amerindian cultures as well as the influence of the African cultures and customs that were introduced centuries ago, when slaves were brought over to Brazil from the ‘Dark Continent’ of Africa. Such tribes and cultures were particularly inclined towards the worship of spirits since they had not been influenced by more structured notions of creation, which hailed from a reliance on the teachings of Bible.
The religions or belief systems found in Brazil other than the ones above include: * Muslims * Methodists * Episcopalians * Buddhists * Ayahuasca * Afro-Brazilian religions – Xango, Batuque, Umbanda, Tambor de Mina * Hinduism * Islamists * Shinto believers * Judaists * Rastafarian * Brazil Religion Makes the Country Unique Every part of the country has been uniquely shaped by the religion practiced there. Celebrations, festivals, traditions, and customs are all practiced due to some religious or spiritual beginnings and purposes.
For example, During the Holy Week before Easter, several Brazilian cities will celebrate Corpus Christi by artistically creating mosaics or carpets on the streets using mediums like flour, flower petals, shavings of wood, and coffee grounds. The results are stunning and a memorable way to celebrate this holy time of the year. The music, dancing, chanting, singing, or other activities all stem from one faith or another and make the people who they are. The entire culture of the Brazilian people is intertwined with religion or faith in some way. No wonder they’re such an amazing, diverse, and wonderful people!