Evangelical rally draws at least 1 million people in Sao Paulo

Thursday, June 3, 2010

At least 1 million in evangelical march in Brazil

SAO PAULO — At least 1 million evangelical Christians rallied in Sao Paulo on Thursday for the annual “March for Jesus,” an event that unites the faithful from hundreds of Protestant churches in the world’s largest Roman Catholic country.

Now in its 18th year, the march is organized by the Reborn in Christ Church, whose leaders returned to Brazil last year after being imprisoned in the United States for not declaring $56,000 in cash they were carrying on a flight from Sao Paulo to Miami.

Marchers, musicians and sound trucks followed Estevam Hernandes Filho and his wife, Sonia Haddad Moraes Hernandes, along the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) route to a square where a huge crowd was gathered.

The march underscores evangelicals’ increasing influence in Brazil, where churches like Reborn in Christ and the Universal Kingdom of God have grown rapidly in recent decades.

According to the latest figures available, the percentage of Catholics in Brazil dropped from 84 percent in 1995 to 74 percent in 2000. During the same period, the number of evangelicals went from 9 percent to 15 percent.

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