Between exposés on the rise of Evangelical Churches and photos of exorcisms, Brazil’s rise in Evangelical Christianity has in recent years become the subject of much media spectacle. But it would be a mistake to believe that this is Brazil’s only religion aside from Catholicism, which was brought to our shores with Portuguese colonizers in the 16th century. For several centuries, religious beliefs across Brazil have been anything but homogenous. As freedoms grow, Brazil’s cultural melting pot has gradually found itself with a greater diversity of religions.
In 1940, 95 percent of Brazilians declared themselves Catholic – something that has changed radically in recent years. Neither of these facts are surprising; colonial settlers brought across Jesuit missionaries when they first arrived in Brazil, and although the 1891 Constitution separated ties between the Church and the State, it also established Catholicism as Brazil’s official religion.