The Major Religions of Brazil

A Catholic Church in Olinda, Brazil.
A Catholic Church in Olinda, Brazil.

Mostly due to its colonial Portuguese roots, Brazil has always been a predominantly Roman Catholic country. In fact, Brazil has the largest Roman Catholic population out of any country in the world. It is estimated that out of Brazil's total population of 209 million, around 126 million Brazilians are Roman Catholic. However, like many other countries in the world, Brazil's irreligious population is also growing. There are also sizeable populations of many Protestant religions. The most popular religions in Brazil are outlined below.

Roman Catholic - 64.63%

It was mostly Portuguese colonists who introduced Roman Catholicism to Brazil - unfortunately, often by force. From 1500 until 1815, Brazil was a colony of Portugal and during this time churches were built and missionaries and religious leaders came over to spread the word of Catholicism. Catholicism was enforced during colonial rule and independence as the unofficial state religion, but it 1824 it became the official religion of the state. With the Constitution of 1891 the government became secular but the Catholic Church has still had influence in Brazil even to this day. Today, Roman Catholic Christianity is still the dominant religion in the country, with 64.63% of people claiming to practice the religion. Most of the states in Brazil are Catholic, with more then half of the population in 25 of the 27 states being Catholic.

Irreligious - 8.04%

In 1970, there were fewer than one million people in Brazil who said that they were Atheist or Agnostic. Over the last several decades, however, the numbers of people that identify as being Atheist or Agnostic has steady climbed all the way up to around 15 million people in Brazil, or around 8% of the total population. This number has risen in recent decades mostly due to that fact that it is more acceptable then ever to question or not believe that there is a god, along with that fact that worldwide more younger people have been shedding religion.

Other Christian - 6.82%

Other Christian religions practiced in Brazil account for around 6.82% of the country. There are around a half a million people in Brazil who practice Orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christianity in Brazil is made up of a wide variety of churches due to the influx of various waves of immigrants from Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria over the course of the last century or so. Jehovah's Witnesses make up just a tad more then three fourths of a million people in Brazil, with around 11,000 congregations spread throughout the country. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly refereed to as Mormonism, has a reported membership of almost 1.2 million people across 1,940 congregation and 315 family history centers. The Mormon Church also has six temples that are scattered throughout Brazil, with a future temple being built in the city of Fortaleza. Some have question though have question the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported membership numbers though, as Brazil's 2010 census showed them having only a tad above two hundred thousands people who self-identified with the religion.

Assemblies of God - 6.46%

The Assemblies of God belong to the Pentecostal denomination of Christianity. They have a worldwide presence and are one of the world's largest Christian religions. In Brazil, around 6.46% of the population belongs to the religion of the Assemblies of God. In Brazil, they are known as the Assembléias de Deus.

Pentecostal and Mainline Protestant Christianity - 5.64%, 4.03%

Protestant Christianity first came to Brazil when Huguenots from France tried to colonize the country in 1557, sent on a mission from John Calvin. They set up shop in a established colony on the islands in Guanabara Bay, where the colony of the France Antarctique had been established. In March of 1557 they held the first known Protestant service in Brazil. The colony was short live however, as the Portuguese drove out the French in 1567. It was then not until the 1820s that Protestantism in Brazil came back with the first Anglican chapel in 1822. Starting in the 1880s with the increasing numbers of European Immigrants and British and American missionaries that came to the country, along with the Catholic Church no longer being the official state religion was when the various Protestant churches started to grow. In the more than a century since then there have been various churches, schools, seminaries, colleges and organizations set up to organize and promote Protestantism. The amount of Brazilians who say that they are Protestant has risen rapidly in the last few decades of the 20th Century.


Spiritism comes from the Spiritist Doctrine, which is found in the five books written by Frenchman Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivai (who was also known as Allan Kardec), the founder of the religion. These books are collectively known as the Spiritist Codification. Spiritism, which is also called Kardecism, puts forward the belief that humans are immortal spirits that temporarily live in physical bodies for several incarnation in order to be able to attain intellectual and moral improvement. The religion also believes that spirits, whether actively or passively, have a positive or negative influence on the physical world. Close to 2% of people in Brazil follow the practices and teachings of Spiritism, and Brazil has sects of the religion such as the Santo Daime and others which use an Amazonian tea called ayahuasca to induce psychological or physical changes in a religious context.

Other - 1.04%

Other minority religions practiced in Brazil include Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Bahá'í, and Judaism.

Religious Beliefs In Brazil

RankReligionPopulation (Percentage)
1Roman Catholic64.63
3Other Christian6.82
4Assemblies of God6.46
5Other Pentecostal5.64
6Traditional Protestant4.03

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