One-in-Twelve Christians in the World Are Brazilian, Study Says

One in twelve Christians in the world (8 percent) is a Brazilian, according to a study recently released by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life with the title “Global Christianity.”

The research, which was a comprehensive demographic study that overlooked 200 countries, found that Brazil is the second largest Christian country with more than 175 million Christians.

The United States leads the top of the list with the largest number of Christians - 247 million. The third largest in the list is Mexico with 108 million.

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Brazil has more than twice as many Christians as Nigeria and about three times as many as Germany. The majority of Brazilians (around 90 percent) identify themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

The country was overwhelmingly Catholic after being colonized by Portugal in the 16th century. In 1950, almost 94 percent of Brazilians identified with Catholicism. However, since around 1980, Catholics have been decreasing while the number of Protestants has sharply increased.

According to a study by the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV), Catholics in 2009 accounted for 68.43 percent of Brazilians, while evangelicals, both traditional and Pentecostals, accounted for 20.2 percent.

Despite the decline, Brazil’s Catholic population of about 134 million remains by far the largest in the world. About one-eighth of Catholics in the world (12 percent) are Brazilian.

The fast-growing Protestant community is overwhelmingly Pentecostal, according to a 2006 Pew Forum survey, representing 72 percent of the Protestant population.

In the world Christians are the largest religious group, according to the study. In total around 2.18 billion are Christian, which represents nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion.

The “Global Christianity” report was based primarily on a country-by-country analysis of about 2,400 data sources, including censuses and nationally representative population surveys.

Jussara Teixeira contributed to this article.

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