One new church per hour

One new church per hour

Religious boom in Brazil: An average of 25 churches are founded every day in Latin America's largest country, reports the newspaper O Globo. Most of them are evangelical churches that have sprung up in poor neighborhoods.

In the past seven years, a total of almost 68.000 religious organizations have been established, the newspaper reported, citing information from the authorities. Most of these are evangelical churches that are springing up in poorer neighborhoods in particular and are stealing believers from the Catholic Church in particular.

One reason for the boom, from which numerous cults and other questionable groups also benefit, is a comprehensive tax exemption for religious institutions. Many of them are financed exclusively by donations and contributions from their members. Evangelical churches, both large and small, where the cession of a tenth of the family income is traditional, are often a lucrative business for pastors and church leadership. One-fifth of new registrations are branches of churches already existing elsewhere, according to the newspaper report.

Evangelical sects are gaining influence

In hardly any other country are evangelical sects gaining so much influence – and posing increasing competition for the Catholic Church. Often a rented store is enough, there the masses are held. The groups often finance themselves primarily through donations from their members.

In principle, any citizen can register a new religious group quite unbureaucratically. President Michel Temer's government also has several followers of such sects. Now imprisoned on corruption charges, former parliamentary speaker Eduardo Cunha, driver of President Dilma Rousseff's ouster, continues to have strong backing in the evangelical movement.

In Rio de Janeiro, known for its permissiveness, ex-sect bishop Marcelo Crivella was elected new mayor in fall 2016. Belongs to the "universal church of the kingdom of God". He sees homosexuality as a disease, and once said of blacks that they like cachaca liquor and prostitution above all else. Crivella also demonstratively boycotted Carnival in Rio this year.

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