Tomorrow the Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
You probably know that Lois and I lived in Brazil from 1977 to 1986 where, as missionaries, we provided support to pastors and leaders in the rapidly growing numbers of churches.
A lot has changed since then, but we still have dear friends in Brazil, and I have begun working there again.
The Olympics coverage may or may not tell much about religion in Brazil, so I thought I might highlight the “spiritual” side of Brazil, to broaden your view of what you will see on TV.
Brazil is a VERY religious place, and diverse.Most Americans think that Brazil is strongly Catholic, but that is a mistake. The circle chart of Brazilian religious identities is misleading.
Brazilians are much more diverse religiously than that chart lets on. In addition to the mostly Christian religions that immigrants brought and the Islam and animistic religions that slaves brought with them, the religions of the native peoples of Brazil have also had a strong influence on the social fabric of Brazil.
Brazilians are innovative religiously. They have invented many new and unique religions. And they have created new varieties of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Spiritism and mixtures of them. Some of the spirituality is deep and meaningful, and some of it seems quites strange to us. And Brazilian religions can be found around the world.