In 25 Years, São Paulo Gained 2,433 New Churches with Evangelical Expansion

Major evangelical denominations exist in the periphery; Catholic Church is largest sole proprietor

Artur Rodrigues
São Paulo

Founded by Jesuits in 1554, São Paulo has grown to be a city full of churches. In the last quarter of a century, however, temples have multiplied at unprecedented speed: about a hundred a year, from 3,346 in 1995 to 5,779, according to city hall data.

Behind the explosion—a jump of 73%, considering only the officially registered church spaces—is a change in the religious profile of the city and country. The ceremony of priests gave way to a charismatic line of pastors.

This transition left concrete marks on the Paulista landscape, with pharaonic buildings such as Solomon's Temple, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and makeshift places of worship in garages and halls on the outskirts.

The Solomon's Temple (Foto: Zanone Fraissat /FOLHAPRESS, COTIDIANO) - Folhapress

The trend, accentuated in the 1990s, remains consistent. This is a more significant variation than the city's growth in the period (60%), and multiple times that of cinemas, theaters and street clubs (7% to 571) and sports clubs (8% to 561). ).

Faced with the spread of evangelical temples, the Catholic Church is still the largest individual holder of temples. There are 731 of them, as well as more than 1,200 other properties in their name in the city.

Taken together, however, Protestant denominations are the majority. These include the Assembly of God, with 499 temples, according to the São Paulo IPTU registration.

The church arrived in Brazil with Swedish missionaries who settled in Pará, and according to the head of the PUC-SP department of religious science, Fernando Altermeyer Junior, is the most dynamic denominations among Pentecostals.

"This is explained by the logic of missionaries. A friend said that in any neighborhood, you will find a bar and an Assembly of God."

There are Assembly units in more than 300 neighborhoods in the capital, from the 10,000 m² building in Brás, which resembles a concert hall, to portholes in peripheral corners.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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