Religion in South America
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Religion in South America

Christianity is the main religion in South America, with Roman Catholics having the most adherents. Sizeable minorities of non-religious people and adherents of other religions are also present.

Religious freedom

Currently, all countries in the region in general are separate of the Catholic Church and declared laic states, which guarantees freedom of religion for its inhabitants. The last country to approve the freedom of religion was Bolivia (since 2008).


The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is the second largest in the world, after only of the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City.[1]

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives 91.9% of the South American population is Christian,[2] although less than half of them are praticant.


Except for Suriname and Uruguay, the more professed religion in the South American countries is the Catholic religion. While countries such as Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Argentina more than three-quarters of the population is Catholic, in Chile it is 57%.

Catholicism was the only religion allowed in the colonial era; the indigenous were forced to abandon their beliefs, although many did not abandon it at all, for example, countries with predominantly Amerindian population such as Bolivia and Peru there is a syncretism between indigenous religions and the Catholic religion, that has occurred since colonial times. In Brazil or Colombia, Catholicism was mixed with certain African rituals.


Protestantism has been a presence since the nineteenth century, as a minority, but has had a strong increase since the 1980s. The majority of Latin American Protestants in general are Pentecostals.[3]Brazil today is the most evangelical country in South America, where 89% of Brazilians evangelicals are Pentecostals, in Chile represents 79% of the total evangelicals in that country, 69% in Argentina and 59% in Colombia.[3] On the other part, in Uruguay 66% of evangelicals are Methodists, while only 20% are Pentecostal.[3]


Brazil is the country with more practitioners in the world of Allan Kardec's codification of the Spiritism, followed by over 12 million people, with 30 to 45 million sympathizers. Most followers of the Spiritism are highly educated people that were mostly Catholic, Protests and Atheists respectively. Despite the Spiritism does not recognize Jesus as God or the only son of God, but as the most illuminated spirit that were born on Earth, the Spiritism is also considered as Christian religion, in addition to science and philosophy, as The Spirits Book explain it, at its 1019 questions and answers. The basic books of the codification includes The Spirits Book, The Book on Mediums, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis According to Spiritism.

Chico Xavier wrote over 490 books, which complements the spiritualist doctrine.

Eastern Orthodoxy

Eastern Orthodox Christianity was brought to South America by groups of immigrants from several different regions, mainly Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This traditional branch of Eastern Christianity has also spread beyond the boundaries of immigrant communities. There are several Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical jurisdictions in South America, organized within the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Latin America.[4]

Oriental Orthodoxy

Several groups of Christian immigrants, mainly from the Middle East, Caucasus, Africa and India, brought Oriental Orthodoxy to the South America. This ancient branch of Eastern Christianity includes several ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the South America, like Coptic Orthodox Church in South America and Syriac Orthodox Church.[5]

Other Christian

Practitioners of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses religions also are exercised in Latin America.

Non-Christian religions

The Mosque of Abou Bakr Alsiddq in Bogotá.

Argentina has the largest communities of both Jews[6][7][8] and Muslims[9][10][11] in Latin America.

Practitioners of the Judaism, Buddhist, Islamic, Hinduism, Bahá'í Faith, and Shinto denominations and religions also exercised in Latin America.[12]

Indigenous creeds and rituals are still practised in countries with large percentages of Amerindians, such as Bolivia and Peru.


Part of Religions in South America (2013):[13]

Countries Christians Roman Catholics Other Christians Others, no religion (atheists and agnostics) and no answer
 Argentina 84 % 77 % 7 % 16 %
 Bolivia 93 % 76 % 17 % 7 %
 Brazil 84 % 63 % 21 % 16 %
 Chile 70 % 57 % 13 % 30 %
 Colombia 78 % 75 % 3 % 22 %
 Ecuador 93 % 81 % 12 % 7 %
 Paraguay 96 % 88 % 8 % 4 %
 Perú 87 % 77 % 10 % 13 %
 Suriname 48 % 21 % 27 % 52 %
 Uruguay 49 % 41 % 8 % 51 %
 Venezuela 91 % 79 % 12 % 9 %

See also


  1. ^ "Basílica de Aparecida aguarda 160 mil pessoas".
  2. ^ Largest Religious Groups (South America). The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA)
  3. ^ a b c «Luis Palau: Evangelist to Three Worlds», Christianity Today, 20 de mayo de 1983, pp. 30-1. Luis Palau, «The Gospel's Social Impact», Briefing (Portland, Oregon: Cruzada Luis Palau), verano de 1984, pp. 14-16.
  4. ^ "Organizations - Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Latin America".
  5. ^ "Meeting with the President of Brazil". 27 October 2016.
  6. ^ LeElef, Ner. "World Jewish Population". Retrieved .
  7. ^ The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute; Annual Assessment, 2007
  8. ^ United Jewish Communities; Global Jewish Populations Archived 2008-05-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Argentina".
  10. ^ "Argentina".
  11. ^ "Arabs and Muslims in Latin America". 17 March 2005 – via
  12. ^ "Religion & Theology in Latin America - LANIC".
  13. ^ "Las religiones en tiempos del Papa Francisco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Latinobarómetro. April 2014. p. 7. Archived from the original (pdf) on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 2015.

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