199,321,413 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA
$11,900 (2011 est.)
Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)
Brazil possesses both a strictly secular government and 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 (1500-1815) led to the development of a diverse array of syncretistic practices within the overarching umbrella of Brazilian Roman Catholicism. Catholicism was the only recognized religion during colonial rule, and in 1824 it became the official religion of an independent Empire of Brazil that also guaranteed religious freedom. The shift to a republic in 1889 led to the adoption of a strictly secular constitution two years later, but the Catholic Church remained politically influential into the late 20th century. Religious pluralism has increased dramatically since the 1970s, largely due to a Protestant community that has grown to include over 15% of the population. The Constitution of Brazil guarantees freedom of religion and prohibits government support or hindrance of religion at all levels.
March 19, 2008
In The Brazilian Popular Church and the Crisis of Modernity, Manuel A. Vasquez explores one of the most dramatic contemporary interactions between religion and politics: the development of progressive Catholicism in Latin America. Progressive Catholicism emerged in the 1960s, seeking to transform both Church and society but began to decline in the 1980s when the popular appeal of liberation theology was threatened. Particularly, Vasquez examines the fate of progressive Catholicism amid change...
December 30, 2004
In this work, Patterson examines three hypotheses about the differing forms of political engagement by Catholicism and evangelicalism in Latin America. Focusing on the intersection between religion and politics in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, in particular, Patterson evaluates the “different religions, different politics” hypothesis that sees Protestants’ attitudes toward and involvement in politics as markedly different from that of Catholic believers. Some of the specific claims that are...
January 1, 1997
In this seminal text on Pentecostalism in Brazil, Andrew Chesnut explores the causes of the remarkable expansion of this faith among the Brazilian poor. In addition to exploring the roles of economic and political conditions, he puts particular emphasis on the role of faith healing, arguing that Brazil's most marginalized populations are drawn to churches that promise to deliver them from various forms of illness. The empirical argument is based largely on ethnographic research in the city of...
January 1, 1994
José Casanova's Public Religions in the Modern World reevaluates the theory of secularization in light of the global resurgence of religion during the last four decades, focusing on the phenomenon of “deprivatization,” or religious re-engagement in the public sphere. The reemergence of religion as a major force in world politics challenged long-held assumptions about the relationship between secularization and modernity. Until the 1970s, social scientists generally accepted the...
February 27, 1986
In this book, Scott Mainwaring examines how and why the Brazilian Catholic Church has changed between 1916 and 1985 and the consequences of these changes. The book is divided into three main studies: the neo-Christendom Church, the Church under the authoritarian military regime, and the Church during the liberalization of the authoritarian regime. Mainwaring works with four models of the Church, the neo-Christian, the modernizing, the reformist, and the popular models. He explores how each of...