Brazil In His Book, Looking Essay

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In many ways, Catholicism perpetuated oppression. It did this in the form of religious ideals such as its views on abortion and birth control. These are two of the main forms of female oppression: unwanted pregnancy was not allowed to be terminated, and women within marriage were not allowed to use birth control. These issues play a significant role in the migration of the religious away from Catholicism and towards Pentecostal churches, where there were no oppressive religious rules. Also, Pentecostal churches were not as hierarchical as the Catholic Churches. In many ways, the oppressive nature of Catholicism and the rigidity of its rules were simply a replacement for or at least reminiscent of an equally oppressive government. Pentecostal churches tend to be much more part of the struggle than assuming a role above it, with religious leaders helping with the struggle rather than being part of it. Pentecostal churches therefore meet a social and psychological need in their adherents that Catholic Churches in Brazil do not.

Another important factor that Burdick mentions in his book is the fact of religious migration (Burdick 7). Many migrants bring with them a variety of religious persuasions. Furthermore, the complicate the matter by also entering the religious groups they find at their destinations. These migrants tend to adhere to these different groups not only in succession, but also at the same time, creating a type of hybrid religion. Similar social characteristics therefore do not necessarily mean an adherence to...

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Here, Catholicism takes four distinct forms. The first migrants to the town brought with them a type of Catholicism that was traditional only in that they are baptized within this religion. Their actual practice is however more reminiscent of Pentecostalism and a type of rural religious persuasion than Catholicism itself. The reason for this is their specific demographic situation; living far from organized Churches, they rarely attended Mass or took part in formalized ritual. Instead, their religious rituals center around "magical" practices, such as consulting religious healers and magicians, who could help them with everyday ailments and problems.
This is at the basis of the general move away from Catholicism in Brazil; the perception that the Pentecostal church could help with everyday, concrete problems without the often judgmental and superior attitude of the Catholic Church. In this, the urban poor -- comprising the majority of the Brazilian population - is more concerned with the strategies necessary for everyday survival than they are with the Catholic call to collective political resistance. In this, the Pentecostal church does not offer power as much as it offers understanding. On both a sociological and psychological basis, such understanding is what Brazilians crave.

Work Cited

Burdick, John. Looking for God in Brazil. University of California Press, 1996.

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Work Cited

Burdick, John. Looking for God in Brazil. University of California Press, 1996.


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