Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Religious presence in Brazil

Coming from the United States, where highlighting particular religious symbols is basically forbidden in government spaces and rare in corporate environments, I am continually amazed to see crucifixes in banks, at the police station, at the grocery store, in the post office and at bus terminals. If it’s not a crucifix it's a shrine to Jesus’s mother, Mary.

[in the city park by our house]

Just a few days ago I was surprised to notice such a shrine looking out over the produce section in a nearby large grocery store.

[Presunic grocery store]

Even the National Cancer Institute, which Luiz and I frequent, has a very large statue of Nossa Senhora (our mother) where patients and their families slip little notes under her feet. (Frankly, it worries me if this venerated institution relies on religious icons as a backup plan.)

[in the Sete Lagoas bus terminal]
But hey, I get it. This is Brazil, where 74% of the population identified itself as Catholic in the most recent census. You can feel the spirituality in everyday life. People cross themselves on the bus when it drives past a church. In addition to Catholic representations we often come across offerings of food and drink in parks, left under trees or near waterfalls. And the largest building (by far) in every poor community is the Evangelical church (what does that say?)

[on the beach near our house]

For the record I thought I would look into the distribution of religious observers (and not) in Brazil. Here is a not-entirely-complete (for the sake of brevity) cataloging of religions and their followers in Brazil (according to Wikipedia):

Roman Catholic 74%
Protestant churches 15%
- Pentecostal 10%
No religion 7.4%
Umbanda .23%
Buddhism .13%
Candomblé .08%
Jewish .05%
Islamic .02%

1 comment:

Fabio Bossard said...

Is it correct? Just 15% of protestan churches??