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Big Rise in Number of Evangelicals in Brazil; Catholics Decrease Significantly

A new study released recently by the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) revealed that the evangelical population in Brazil has grown 13.13 percent between 2003 and 2009.

Despite being a country with a great majority of Catholics the "New Religious Map" showed that Catholics have decreased significantly since the 90's, whilst evangelicals have seen an increase.

In 1991, Catholics accounted for 83.34 percent of the population, but by 2000 the percentage had dropped to 73.89 percent, and in 2009 Catholics accounted for just 68.43 percent.

Meanwhile, both traditional and evangelical Pentecostals jumped from 17.9 percent in 2003 to 20.2 percent in 2009.

The data seems to confirm the previously touted estimate that the evangelical population in the country could represent more than 50 percent by 2020; a figure touted by the “Servindo aos Pastores e Líderes" (SEPAL) last year.

"We believe 52 per cent of the population will be evangelical by 2020, or about 109.3 million evangelicals within a total population of 209.3 million," said SEPAL researcher Luis André Brunet, in an interview with The Christian Post in February.

The New Religious Map also found that the number of people who have no religion increased from 5.1 percent to 6.72 percent between 2003 and 2009.

The data may indicate that there was a significant diversification of alternative beliefs in the past decade, which seems to be confirmed by a recent Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) study.

An increasing number of people in Brazil are saying they are not affiliated with any particular faith today, and many of these eventually attend various different religious services.

Patricia, who was raised as Catholic, now says she has no religion and does not care that her daughter belongs to any kind of religion, according to the Brazilian publication G1.

"I think there are people who need a church, a direction, and others not," she argues.

Brazilian women were found to be more religious than men, the study found. Among women, 5 percent do not have a specific religion and for men the percentage is 8.52.

With regards to social classes, the study showed that the proportion of evangelicals in the lower classes of society had increased significantly.

The greatest number of Pentecostals are in Acre, in the southwest part of the country, with 24.18 percent. The proportion according to social class is more significant in class D (14.98 percent).

The coordinator of the Center for Social Policies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, Marcelo Neri, concluded that the religious composition of the population has changed significantly over the past 20 years.

"It had been changing at a certain rate, now it is changing 10 times faster than the hundred years before," said Neri.

The research aimed to the most comprehensive statistical and updated information about religions in Brazil.

The data was obtained from more than 200,000 interviews each year at the end and beginning of the last decade.

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