Brazil’s religious landscape is as diverse as it’sand geographic diversity. Accordingly, the majority of Brazilians in the country identify as Roman Catholic (64.4%), thus reflecting it’s historical relationship with Portugal and the Catholic Church. Of the remaining population, 22.2% identify with a Protestant tradition, including Seventh Day Adventist (6.5%), Assembly of God (2.0%), Christian Congregation of Brazil (1.2%), Universal Kingdom of God (1.0%) and other forms of Protestantism (11.5%). There is also a small number of people who identify with another form of Christianity (0.7%), ‘Spiritist’ (2.2%), other (1.4%), none, (8.0%) and unspecified (0.4%) (est. 2010).
Catholicism in Brazil
Catholicism was introduced to Brazil during the earlyperiod by the Portuguese. However, other Jesuit missionaries from Europe sought to actively bring the teachings of Catholicism to the local populace, especially the indigenous population. In the 19th century, Catholicism was made the official religion of Brazil and was formally institutionalised into the country’s political and social system. Whilst this formality has loosened greatly, Brazil has one of the largest Christian populations in the world.
The Catholic Church in Brazil is divided into three major groups. In descending order of the number of followers, these groups are: the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church and theCatholic Church. Despite the large proportion of the Brazilian population following one of these three branches of Catholicism, followers of the Catholic Church in general have been in decline. Simultaneously, the number of Brazilian Protestants has increased since 2000, yet it is unclear whether former followers of the Catholic Church are converting to Protestantism. According to the 2010 census data of Brazil, over three-quarters of Brazilians who live in rural areas identify as Catholic.
Numerous significant events in Brazil revolve around the Catholic faith, such as Brazilian festivities hinging on events in the Catholic calendar, or relate to Christian saints. Influences of the religion can also be seen throughout the country through Catholic iconography and buildings. One of the most known examples is the Christ the Redeemer statue located in Rio de Janeiro. Respect for and adherence to Catholic holidays and seminal life events also continue to be very important for many Brazilians, such as baptism, religious weddings and celebrations dedicated to patron saints.