The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus or IURD) is one of the largest and strongest Neo-Pentecostal churches in Brazil with global reach. Founded by Bishop Edir Bezerra Macedo and two other pastors in 1977, the church encompasses 8 million members in over 150 countries, television networks (including the second largest in Brazil), radio stations, newspapers, a publishing house, a record company, and numerous other business enterprises both in Brazil and elsewhere. 


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See also: Brazil, Christianity

Assembly of God

The Assembly of God is Brazil’s largest Pentecostal church, claiming more than 14 million members. Part of the first wave of Pentecostal churches, two Swedish missionaries from Chicago introduced the church to northern Brazil in the 1910s and it retains a headquarters in Belém. Unlike other imports, the church empowered Brazilian converts from its first days and relied on Brazilians to evangelize their compatriots. Brazilians served as church...

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See also: Brazil, Christianity

Brazilian Conference of Bishops

The Brazilian Conference of Bishops (CNBB) was founded in 1952 by a group of bishops who were deeply critical of the economic and political status quo. This perspective grew out of the bishops’ backgrounds, many of whom were from poorer, rural states, but was also related to independent funding received from European Catholic organizations that allowed for autonomy from the state. The CNBB advanced the adoption of Paulo Freire’s model of “critical consciousness,”...

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Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian philosopher and educator, best known for his model of “critical consciousness,” a forerunner of critical pedagogy. Freire considered education a force for empowerment and liberation. As such, he argued a pedagogical approach should be developed with rather than for the students, especially those who come from oppressed, marginalized populations. Freire’s model, developed to empower the oppressed, encouraged students to critique the educational situation as well as the subject, highlighted the connections between individual problems...

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The Catholic Church in Brazil

The Catholic Church is deeply enmeshed in Brazil’s culture, beliefs, and institutions. The Church arrived with the Portuguese conquest in the sixteenth century and has since been the dominant religion. From 1500 to 1889, Catholicism was the official state religion. Even after disestablishment and the efforts at secularization that began under the First Republic (1889-1930), the Catholic Church retained its...

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Pentecostalism in Brazil

Pentecostalism is the fastest growing sector of Brazilian Protestantism. It is made up of Classic Pentecostalism, founded by European and American missionaries during the first half of the twentieth century, and Neo-Pentecostalism, a later generation of indigenous churches that emerged after 1970. The first group includes such significant denominations as the Christian Congregation, the Assembly of God, Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Brazil for Christ, and God...

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See also: Brazil, Christianity


For Roman Catholics, a synod is a meeting of elected or appointed Roman Catholic Bishops to advise the Pope. A synod differs from a council of bishops which is convened less frequently and is open to all Bishops. Council decisions (with the approval of the reigning Pope) are binding on Catholic teaching and doctrine whereas synods serve an advisory function to the Pope. Some Protestant churches also hold synods and these are defined as a gathering of clergy...

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See also: Christianity

Second Vatican Council

This council was convened in Rome by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and ended in 1965 under Pope Paul VI. It focused on renewal of the Roman Church in the modern context. Highlights include allowing the Mass to be recited in vernacular languages instead of only in Latin, affirming the principle of religious freedom, and promoting ecumenical dialogues with other faith traditions. 

See also: Christianity

Scopes Trial

The formal name for this 1925 trial is The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. Scopes was a substitute high school biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee who taught the theory of human evolution to his students in violation of the Butler Act which made it illegal to teach human evolution in any state funded school. The trial is also known as the Monkey Trial. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. 


In Christianity, sacraments are rituals used as vehicles for believers to enter into relationship with God. There are disputes among differing traditions about the number of recognized sacraments but the two most accepted among traditions are baptism and communion, or the Eucharist. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians affirm seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, reconciliation (also known as confession), the Eucharist, ordination, matrimony, and the anointing of the...

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See also: Christianity