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First Baptist Church of Vila Da Penha: An Example of the Phenomenal Growth of Protestants in Brazil in Recent Years

Author:

Harold E. Greer, Jr.

Virginia Commonwealth University
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Abstract

In Brazil, as in all of Latin America, the phenomenal growth of evangelical Protestant religious groups in recent years challenges the perception of the country as a Roman Catholic state. In the 1980s a Brazilian Bishop observed that Latin America was becoming Protestant faster than Central Europe did during the Protestant Reformation (Stoll xiv). The number of evangelical Protestants in Brazil almost quadrupled from 1960 to 1985; if that growth rate were extrapolated to 2010, fifty-seven percent of the population would be Protestant (Stoll 337). Ordained Protestant ministers had surpassed Catholic priests, 17,000 to 13,000 by 1973 (Stoll 6). Joseph A. Page, in his recent book, The Brazilians, made this interesting observation: “A confidential study undertaken by Brazil’s Roman Catholic bishops and sent to the Vatican on the eve of Pope John Paul II’s 1991 trip to Brazil estimated that the Brazilian Catholic Church was losing six hundred thousand members a year to Protestant denominations and other religious groups, and that the number of Brazilian Catholics who actually practiced their faith did not match the number of practicing Protestants” (372). Phillip Berryman cites similar views in his book Religion in the Megacity: Catholic and Protestant Portraits From Latin America (3). A former student of the author noted that all the individuals who worked for her parents, her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles in service jobs, such as cooks, maids, and chauffeurs, were evangelical Protestants (Sampaio).

How to Cite: Greer, Jr., H.E., (2007). First Baptist Church of Vila Da Penha: An Example of the Phenomenal Growth of Protestants in Brazil in Recent Years. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies. 13(1), pp.37–46. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/11
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Published on 01 Jan 2007.
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