May 8, 2002

Census reveals more Protestants in Brazil

                 RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Protestant religions continued to make
                 inroads over the past decade in Brazil, the world's most populous Catholic
                 country, according to census figures released Wednesday.

                 The number of people who declared themselves Catholic in the 2000 census was
                 73.8 percent, down from 83.8 in 1991, the government's Brazilian Institute for
                 Geography and Statistics said.

                 Meanwhile, the number of people who said they were members of Protestant
                 religions grew to 15.4 percent, up from 9 percent in 1991.

                 Evangelical Protestant churches like the Assembly of God and Universal Kingdom
                 of God have been very successful at appealing to Brazil's poor with their message
                 of strict adherence to the New Testament and prohibitions on drinking.

                 The number of people who said they had no religion also rose to 7.3 percent, up
                 from 4.8 percent in 1991.

                 Protestant religions had their greatest advances in Amazon states such as Rondonia,
                 Roraima, Amazonas and Acre, where nearly a quarter of the population said they
                 belonged to Protestant denominations. Brazil's poor northeast continued to maintain
                 the greatest concentration of Catholics, the institute said.

                 Rio de Janeiro was the state with the smallest proportion of Catholics, with only
                 57.2 percent, and the highest proportion of nonbelievers, with 15.5 percent.

                 The institute did not present statistics on other religions.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.