Almost three-fourths of the Brazilian people are Roman Catholics, making it the most populous country of that faith in the world. Roman Catholicism ceased to be the official religion after the proclamation of the republic in 1889, which loosed the formerly close links between church and state; however, the predominance of Catholics among the immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries contributed to the lasting predominance of that religion. Nearly all the rest of the population is Protestant, dominated by fundamentalist and Pentecostal groups. Evangelical groups gathered rapid support from the 1990s by taking some members from the Catholic ranks; in response, Catholic groups initiated a series of charismatic masses and rallies.
Brazil has smaller numbers of adherents to Eastern Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Shintō, Islam, and other religions, all of which together are about numerically equal to those practicing a form of spiritualism, or spiritism, that is based on the 19th-century teachings of the French medium Allan Kardec. Many Brazilians also practice syncretic religions, such as Macumba, Candomblé, Xangô, and Umbanda, that blend Christian beliefs with rites imported from Africa or with spiritualistic practices. Candomblé predominates in Bahia. The Nagô Candomblé sect, derived from the religion of Yoruba slaves, is particularly widespread and influences the rites of other sects.
Macumba and Umbanda have many adherents in Rio de Janeiro state, whereas Xangô is most influential in Pernambuco. Practitioners generally identify their deities with Roman Catholic saints and believe that these deities intercede for them with a supreme being. Priests and priestesses are mostly of African ancestry, but adherents are drawn from every ethnic group and social class, especially in urban centres. Perhaps tens of millions of Brazilian Catholics occasionally participate in syncretic or spiritualist feasts and ceremonies. "Brazil" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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