Brazil has many religions, such as Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and pagan religions. Most of the religions date to around 1540 when Africans where being brought to Brazil as slaves. Most of the religions today have some traditional practices in them.
74% of Brazilians are Catholics. Brazil possesses the largest Catholic population in the world.
Followers of Protestantism are rising in number, they currently total 15.4%.
7.4% of the population consider themselves agnostics, atheists or without a religion.
Spiritism constitutes 1.3% of the population (about 2.3 million).
1.8% are members of other religions. Some of these are Latter-day Saints (900,000 followers), Jehovah's Witnesses (600,000) Buddhism (215,000), Seicho-No-Ie (151,000), Judaism (230,000), and Islam (27,000).
0.3% are followers of African traditional religions such as Candomble, Macumba, and Umbanda.
Some practice a mixture of different religions, such as Catholicism, Candomble and indigenous American religion combined.
In the 18th century Catholicism was the main religion, because of the Portuguese settlers in the area. Brazil has the highest number of Roman Catholics, who are about 80% of the population.
Brazilians have added additional beliefs to the religion, such as praying to padre Cicero, a dead priest from the area of Ceara. They also go on pilgrimage to various places in the country, one of them being where the patron saint of Brazil Nossa Senhora da Aparecida appeared.
The number of Protestants is growing rapidly and the Assembly of God has the highest number. Other protestant churches are very strict, like some do not allow there followers to gamble, take alcohol, use drugs or dress inappropriately.
These religions were created by the African slaves who mixed their traditional beliefs with the European ones.
Candomblé is a pagan religion with many African elements in it. The beliefs are borrowed from the Yoruba tribe. They believe that the healing of the soul is the most important thing in life. Their ritual begins with an offering to Exu; the messenger through which they communicate with the orixá (their god) and builds into what they believe to be possession of their bodies by their patron orixá.
Macumba is a word of African (Bantu) origins. The word has several meanings, such as a musical instrument, the name of a Central African god and simply "magic". It was the name used for all Bantu religions in the 19th Century around Rio de Janeiro.
Later (20th century) these religions changed into Umbanda, Quimbanda and Omoloko. "Macumba" became common in some parts of Brazil and this word is used by most people meaning "black witchcraft".
Another Pagan religion is Umbanda which is made up of several religious practices. Some of these practices have been borrowed from Hinduism, Buddhism, the Yoruba religion and Brazilian Indian religions.
They use the names of the catholic saints instead of the African names for their orixá. The followers of Umbanda believe that spirits heal through possession and that each time a person's body is possessed, it raises their own spirit to a higher level of consciousness.