With such large amount of money surrounding Brazilian churches, these institutions seem to work as companies, and religion seems to act as a business. Know in this article how it works in Brazil.
In Brazil only 8% of the population do not follow any type of religion; 64,6% are catholic, while 22,2% belongs to evangelic religions and 5.2% to others. The religion segment has conquered an equivalent of 16,1 million members in the past decade, revealing a huge increase of the faithfuls.
In the past years, the religion sector in Brazil has registered a billionaire collection. Only in 2011 the religious institutions raised BRL 20,6 billion, which is higher than the income of 15 of the 24 Ministries of the Brazilian executive power.
This value reflects the earns of the catholic, evangelic and others types of churches in Brazil. The biggest part of this collection derives from the faith of the population: BRL 39,1 million is daily delivered by the faithfuls to this kind of institutions.
Observing the numbers of raised money and the increasing membership, religion in Brazil seems to be a very complex institution, and more than that, a very rich and financial one. Since any Brazilian can open their own church, this type of religious institution appears to be more as a business than a temple of faith.
How do Religions Make Money?
The tithe is a quantity of money raised by churches monthly. It is charged upon a 10% rate of what the members earn per month or as a 10% rate of any other value earned by them. This type of collection is a very antique practice usually made in Catholic and Jewish institutions. Nowadays, the tithe is also charged by any other religion. The contribution is not mandatory, but it is always donated by religious members of a temple or church. The members can also contribute with other types of donations, like food and clothes, but money is the most usual one.
Besides all money donated immediately by the church members, by tithe and other donations, the sale of goods and services (BRL 3 billion) and the incomes achieved with investments (BRL 460 million), are also examples of the income source of churches.
The sale of goods and services by the churches is an indirect way of raising money. Rosaries, scapulars, medals of saints, prayer cards, bibles, statues and a lot of other religious articles are items usually bought by faithfuls. People buy this products believing that they are sacred and that will bring luck, love or good things to their owners.
In catholic church, for example, scapulars, rosaries and medals are usually blessed with holy water or they are commercialized as they were blessed, in order to achieve faithful beliefs. A few objects such as statues and image cards are also seen as ways to be blessed. A lot of people in Brazil carry in their wallets a photo of a saint with the purpose of always being protected by it.
This sort of market in Brazil raises a large amount of money, such as some services provided by the churches. Weddings and baptisms are usual practices that happen inside the churches or temples and sometimes this places must be paid to the religious institution for being used.
Religions and Tax Exemptions
As well as the political parties and syndicates, the temples, churches and any other type of religious centers are not included in federal government taxation system. Thus patrimony, income and services linked with the religious activity are exempt of any kind of taxation.
Even though this type of places do not have to pay any federal taxes, they must declare every year the quantity and the origin of their income to the Federal Revenue. This sort of declaration is named DIPJ.
Another Brazilian way to generate income with religion is the religious tourism. Different from any other type of tourism, the religious one has as motivation the faith. For that reason is usually linked with important religious dates, holidays, events and locations.
The most common practices in this type of tourism are: the pilgrimage, church visits, specialized museums visitations, the participation in important religious events, processions and theme theater plays. Since Brazil is a catholic country, the religious tourism have a huge development space in Brazilian territory. Places such as Aparecida, in São Paulo, Belém do Pará and Nova Trento, in Santa Catarina, are famous destinies chosen by Brazilian religious to pilgrimage.