National Profiles > Regions > South America > Brazil
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Catholic

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Catholic (55.3%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Brazil South America World
Christian (all denominations combined) 86.4% 89.1% 29.9%
  • Catholic
  • 55.3% 66.2% 15%
  • Pentecostal
  • 14.8% 10.5% 2.8%
  • Protestant
  • 9.7% 7% 5.6%
  • Orthodox
  • 0.1% 0.2% 3%
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • 6.6% 5.1% 2.3%
    Christian Syncretic 2.6% 1.5% ---
    Neoreligionist 2.6% 1.3% 0.1%
    Ethnoreligionist (incl. Animist, Shamanist) 0.2% 0.5% 2.5%
    Buddhist (all denominations combined) 0.1% 0.1% 6.6%
  • Mahayana Buddhist
  • 0.1% --- 4.3%
  • Other and Unknown Buddhist
  • < 0.1% --- 0.5%
    Other Religionist 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 8% 6.4% 12%

    Religious Demography3

    The country has an area of 3,286,488 square miles and a population of 191,900,000. Nearly all major religious groups are present. Many citizens worship in more than one church or participate in the rituals of more than one religion. The 2000 census by the Geographic and Statistical Institute of Brazil (IBGE) indicated that approximately 74 percent of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic. Approximately 15 percent of the population is Protestant, an estimated 85 percent of whom are Pentecostal or evangelical. These groups include the Assemblies of God, Christian Congregation of Brazil, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, the Quadrangular Gospel, God is Love, Maranata, Brazil for Christ, House of the Blessing, New Life, and others. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Congregationalists, and others account for most of the remaining Protestants and are centered in the south. In the 2000 census, 199,645 residents identify themselves as belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons); however, the church lists its current membership as 970,903.

    According to the 2000 census, there are 214,873 adherents of Buddhism and 151,080 adherents of other oriental religious groups. The Japanese-Brazilian community practices Shintoism to a limited degree. The census reports 17,088 adherents of indigenous traditions and 2,905 Hindus.

    Followers of African and syncretic religious groups such as Candomblé total a reported 127,582, while followers of Umbanda total 397,431. There are no statistics on the number of followers of Xango or of Macumba; however, data from the same study indicates that followers of Afro-Brazilian religious groups total 0.3 percent of the population.

    Followers of spiritism, mainly Kardecists--adherents of the doctrine expounded by Frenchman Allan Kardec in the 19th century--constitute approximately 1.3 percent, with an estimated 2,262,400 followers. There are 25,889 reported practitioners of Spiritualism. An estimated 7 percent do not practice any religion, and approximately 384,000 participants did not respond to the census.

    Reliable figures on the number of Muslims do not exist. Muslim leaders estimate that there are between 700,000 and 3 million Muslims, with the lower figure representing those who actively practice their religion, while the higher estimate also includes nominal members. These figures are much higher than the 27,239 Muslims reported in the 2000 census. There are significant Muslim communities in São Paulo, the ABC industrial suburbs of the greater São Paulo city area, and in the Santos area. There are also communities in Paraná State in the coastal region and in Curitiba and Foz do Iguazu in the triborder area. The community is overwhelmingly Sunni; the Sunnis are almost completely assimilated into broader society. The recent Shiite immigrants gravitate to small insular communities in São Paulo, Curitiba, and Foz do Iguazu. Sunni and Shi'a Islam are practiced predominantly by immigrants who arrived during the past 25 years from Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Conversions to Islam have increased recently among non-Arab citizens. There are some 62 mosques, Islamic religious centers, and Islamic associations.

    According to the Jewish Confederation of Brazil (CONIB), there are 119,560 Jews of whom approximately 60,000 reside in São Paulo State. There are 35,000 to 40,000 in Rio de Janeiro State, according to CONIB and Rio de Janeiro's Jewish Federation estimates. Many other cities have smaller Jewish communities.


    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    3.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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