Brazil Has More Protestants, Fewer Catholics

RIO DE JANEIRO, MAY 10, 2002 ( The country with the most Catholics has been losing the faithful at a rapid pace over the last decade, according to census figures.

The number of Brazilians who called themselves Catholic in the 2000 census was 73.8%, down from 83.8% in 1991, the government´s Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics said, according to the Associated Press.

The number of people who said they were members of Protestant religions grew to 15.4%, up from 9% in 1991. The ranks of people who said they had no religion rose to 7.3%, up from 4.8% in 1991.

Protestant religions saw their biggest gains in Amazon states such as Rondonia, Roraima, Amazonas and Acre, where nearly a quarter of the population said they belonged to Protestant denominations.

Rio de Janeiro was the state with the smallest percentage of Catholics (57.2%) and the highest proportion of nonbelievers (15.5%).