Presbyterian Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro.

Protestantism in Brazil began in the 19th century and grew in the 20th century. The 2010 Census reported that 22.2% of the Brazilian population was Protestant, while in 2020 the percentage was estimated to have risen to 31% of the population,[1] over 65 million individuals, making it the second largest Protestant population in the Western world.

Brazilian Protestantism is primarily represented by Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and a smaller proportion of Baptists. The remainder is made up of Lutherans, Adventists, Presbyterians and other mainline Protestant traditions.

Since 2010, the number of Catholics in Brazil has dropped by an average of 1.2% per year; conversely, the number of Evangelicals has grown by 0.8% per year.[2]


Protestant Church in Gramado.
Protestant Church in Pomerode.
Protestant Church in São Paulo.


Protestantism was first practiced in Brazil by Huguenot travelers attempting to colonize the country while it was under the Portuguese colonial rule. These attempts, however, would not persist.

A French mission sent by John Calvin was established in 1557 on one of the islands of Guanabara Bay, where the France Antarctique colony was founded. On March 10 of the same year, these Calvinists held the first Protestant service in Brazil and, according to some accounts, the first in all the New World.[3]

Varieties of Protestantism were often introduced by immigrants from Europe but over the last three decades, the number of Neo-Pentecostal churches such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has grown significantly.

1820s to 1945

In the 19th century, while the vast majority of Brazilians were nominal Catholics, the nation was underserved by priests, and for large numbers of people religion did not play an important role in daily life.[4] Protestantism in Brazil largely originated with European immigrants as well as British American missionaries following up on efforts that began in the 1820s.

The first Anglican chapel began to offer services to English-speaking people in Rio de Janeiro in 1822. In the same city, the Prussian consul sponsored the founding of a German and French Reformed congregation in 1827, which today is a Lutheran church.

Among missionaries, Methodists were most active, along with Presbyterians and Baptists. The Seventh-day Adventists began in 1894, and the YMCA was organized in 1896. The missionaries promoted schools, colleges and seminaries, including the liberal arts Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, and an agricultural school. The Presbyterian schools in particular later became the nucleus of the governmental system. In 1887 Protestants in Rio de Janeiro formed a hospital.

The missionaries largely reached a working-class audience, as the Brazilian upper class was wedded either to Catholicism or to secularism. By 1914, Protestant churches founded by U.S. missionaries had 47,000 communicants, served by 282 missionaries. In general, these missionaries were more successful than they had been in Mexico, Argentina or elsewhere in Latin America.[5]

The first Seventh Day Baptists soon appeared in Brazil. They expanded in territory and Brazil became home to one of the world's highest Seventh Day Baptist populations..[6]

The Catholic Church was disestablished in 1890, and responded by increasing the number of dioceses and the efficiency of its clergy. Many Protestants came from a large German immigrant community and they were mostly Lutheran, but they were seldom engaged in proselytizing and grew by natural increase. Most Protestants came from missionary activities sponsored by the United States and Europe. By 1930, there were 700,000 Protestants, and increasingly they were in charge of their own affairs.

In 1930, the Methodist Church of Brazil became independent of the missionary societies and elected its own bishop. Protestants were largely working-class, but their networks helped accelerate their upward social mobility.[7][8]

Since 1945

Protestantism, which has resisted syncretism more than other Christian churches have in the diverse country,[9] established a significant presence in Brazil during the first half of the 20th century and grew during the second half. Protestants accounted for fewer than 5% of the population until the 1960s, but by 2000 made up over 15% of those affiliated with a church. Pentecostals and Charismatic groups account for most of this expansion.

With their emphasis on personal salvation and moral codes as well as a less ideological approach to politics, these groups have developed a broad appeal, particularly among the booming urban migrant communities. The political consequences of this shift are still poorly understood, as the fragmentation of the Protestant community after the late 1970s has weakened it as a vehicle for direct political action.

After centuries of persecution under Portuguese colonial rule, which was successful in consolidating Catholicism in the country, Protestant denominations have seen a rapid growth in their number of followers since the last decades of the 20th century.[10]

At the time of the 2000 Census, 15.4% of the Brazilian population was Protestant. Recent research conducted by the Datafolha institute shows that 31% of Brazilians are Protestants.[11] The 2010 Census found that 22.2% were Protestant.[12]

Until the late 1970s, the majority of Brazilian Protestants were Lutherans, Presbyterians, or Baptists; however, the Pentecostals, especially from neo-charismatic churches linked to the prosperity doctrine, have grown significantly in number since then.

There is also a Seventh-day Adventist educational system with over 475 elementary schools, 67 secondary schools, two colleges and a university.[13][14] The rich and the poor remained traditional Catholics, while most Evangelical Protestants were in the new lower-middle class, known as the "C class" (in a A–E classification system). A 2015 survey in Brazil found that the majority of prisoners may be Evangelicals.[15]


Main articles: Evangelical Caucus (Brazil), Conservatism in Brazil, and Political influence of Evangelicalism in Latin America

In the Brazilian National Congress, there is Evangelical Caucus, a loosely organized group of Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal lawmakers in the Brazilian government and legislature. If considered a political party, the Evangelical Caucus would be the third largest in the Brazilian government, surpassed only by the Brazilian Democratic Movement and the Workers' Party.[16]

It was reported that 70% of evangelical Protestants voted for President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 Brazilian general election.[17]


Protestants in Brazil by branch (2010)[18]

  Pentecostal (60.01%)
  Baptist (8.81%)
  Adventist (3.69%)
  Lutheran (2.36%)
  Presbyterian (2.18%)
  Methodist (0.81%)
  Other (0.33%)
  Undetermined (21.80%)

Protestants in Brazil by denomination (2010)[18]

  Assemblies of God (29.13%)
  Foursquare Church (4.28%)
  Maranatha Christian Church (0.84%)
  Other (28.35%)
  No particular denomination (21.86%)

According to 2010 IBGE Census, the following are the biggest Protestant denominations in Brazil.[19] Only those with more than half a million members are listed.

Assemblies of God (Assembléias de Deus): 12,314,410 (6.5%) (Classic Swedish-Brazilian Pentecostal denomination.)
General Convention of the Assemblies of God (Affiliated with the US Assemblies of God, Springfield, MO): 3.6 million.
National Convention of the Assemblies of God (also known as the Madureira Ministry of the Assemblies of God): 2.5 million.
Other independent Assemblies of God: 1.9 million
Christian Congregation in Brazil (Italian-Brazilian Pentecostals): 2,289,634 (1.3%)
O Brasil para Cristo(Brazil for Christ): 2,196,665
Foursquare Gospel Church Igreja do Evangelho Quadrangular (Classic Pentecostals in US, but second-wave Pentecostals in Brazil): 1,808,389 (0.8%)
Brazilian Baptist Convention (Affiliated to US Southern Baptists and BWA body member): 1.4 million adherents
National Baptist Convention (Charismatics Baptists and BWA body member): 1 million.
Independent Baptist Convention (Scandinavian Baptists): 400,000.
Brazilian Seventh Day Baptist Conference: 4,953
Other Baptists: 300,000
Seventh-day Adventist Church: 1.6 million[20][21]
Promise Adventist Church (Brazilian Pentecostal Adventists): 150,000
Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement: 50,000
Other Adventists: 100,000
Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil
Other Lutherans
Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 1,011,300
Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 85,000
Renewed Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 131,000
Conservative Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 6,000
Fundamentalist Presbyterian Church in Brazil: 1,800
United Presbyterian Church of Brazil: 3,466
Evangelical Reformed Church in Brazil: 2,500
Reformed Churches in Brazil
Hungarian Reformed Church
Protestant Church of Brazil
Swiss Evangelical Church
Arab Evangelical Church
Evangelical Congregational Church in Brazil: 50,000
United Congregational Churches in Brazil: 50,000
Reformed Anglican Church in Brazil
Comunhao Reformada Battista no Brasil - reformed baptists in Brazil
Methodist Church of Brazil (Affiliated to US United Methodist Church): 200,000
Wesleyan Methodist Church (Brazilian Pentecostal Methodists): 100,000
Other Methodists: 40,000

See also


  1. ^ "50% dos brasileiros são católicos, 31%, evangélicos e 10% não têm religião, diz Datafolha". G1 (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  2. ^ Evangelicals will be majority in Brazil
  3. ^ Alderi Souza de Matos, A FRANÇA ANTÁRTICA E A CONFISSÃO DE FÉ DA GUANABARA Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie 2011.
  4. ^ Religion n Brazil
  5. ^ Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity: volume V: The great century in the Americas, Austral-Asia, and Africa: A.D. 1800-A.D. 1914 (1943) 5:120-3
  6. ^ Sanford, Don A. (1992). A Choosing People: The History of Seventh Day Baptists. Nashville: Broadman Press. pp. 127–286. ISBN 0-8054-6055-1.
  7. ^ Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity: Volume VII: Advance through Storm: A.D. 1914 and after, with concluding generalizations (1945) 7:181-2
  8. ^ Erasmo Braga and Kenneth G. Trubb, The Republic of Brazil: A survey of the religious situation (1932)
  9. ^ Syncretism in Brazil
  10. ^ Reel, Monte (2005-04-14). "Brazil's Priests Use Song and Dance To Stem Catholic Church's Decline". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ 50% of Brazilians are Catholic, 31% are Evangelicals and 10% have no religion
  12. ^ Evangelicals in Brazil 22.2% (2010)
  13. ^ Adventist Atlas
  14. ^ Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo
  15. ^ "Evangélicos compõem a maioria nos presídios, mostra pesquisa". Sul 21 (in Portuguese). 2015-05-30. Retrieved 2023-05-06.
  16. ^ Chico Marés (21 April 2013). "Bancada evangélica seria 3.º partido da Câmara" (in Portuguese). Gazeta do Povo. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Brazil's presidential hopefuls court the evangelical vote". 21 July 2022.
  18. ^ a b Censo Democráfico 2010 - Características gerais da população, religião e pessoas com deficiência
  19. ^ Censo 2010
  20. ^ Adventist News Network
  21. ^ As Adventist Church in Brazil grows, so do schools
  22. ^ Reformed churches in Brazil

Further reading