- The complete dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal was first broken by the government when it gave permission to several expatriate communities to form congregations, the first being for German Lutherans (1763) and Anglicans (1843). Meanwhile, an independent missionary effort was initiated in 1838 by a Portuguese man who had converted while outside the country. British missionaries of several DENOMINATIONS became active in the last half of the 19th century. Finally, BRAZIL, a Portuguese-speaking former colony, became an additional route of Protestant entry.A critical event in Protestant history occurred in 1871, when 11 Roman Catholic priests converted to Anglicanism. They founded the Igreja Lusitanian Catolica Apostolica Evangélica (Lusi-tanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church) and subsequently obtained Anglican orders.Official tolerance for non-Catholic religions was granted in 1933, though the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church was also guaranteed. Marriages by Protestant ministers were not recognized, and the purchase of property or erection of buildings was heavily taxed. Religious dissidents were subject to arrest. Significant changes occurred after the coup of 1974. These changes had been presaged by decades of problems between the government and the Vatican, especially over Portugal's refusal to give up its colonies.The coup ended the close association between the Catholic Church and the state, and a number of religious dissidents, including Protestants, were freed from prison. While the primacy of the church was later reasserted, provisions for religious freedom have steadily improved. At the beginning of the new century, a law to broaden religious freedoms was under consideration.Prospering most from the new atmosphere have been the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and most of all two Pentecostal bodies. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God came into Portugal in 1991 from Brazil and is now the only non-Catholic group to have more than 100,000 members. The Mana Christian Church, based in Lisbon, which practices speaking in tongues, casting out demons, and divine healing, has grown locally while developing work in more than 30 countries. under the national and international leadership of apostles and bishops, the Mana Church is a leading example of the cell church movement, which integrates new members via intimate groups for nurturing and discipling.Several older Protestant churches have banded together in the Portuguese Council of Churches, which cooperates with the World Council of Churches. Included in the council are the only two Portuguese-based churches that are members of the World Council, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal and the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church.See also Spain.Further reading:■ David Barrett, The Encyclopedia of World Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)■ G. C. Ericson, A Short History of the Portuguese Evangelical Church. (n.p., 1973).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.