Community level development efforts in Brazil in urban areas and brazil is
a catholic place a lot of organizations would have religious connections.
liberation theology? (background) catholic versus african religions any part of church in brazil helping the poor? have the churches abandoned these neighbourhoods?



            ‘Favela’ is a term generally used in Brazil to mean a shanty town. It is a place where former slaves with no land and who had no other option lived. Many Brazilian citizens who were poor were forced out of towns and were forced to live in the suburbs. These towns- referred to as bairros africanos or “African neighbourhoods”-expanded over the years as many black slaves were freed. In the 19th century, due to what was known as rural exodus, many people moved from the rural areas of Brazil to the cities. Since many people couldn’t find a decent place to live in, they ended up in Favelas (Perlman, 2006). The term Favela was coined in the late 1800’s, during that time, veteran soldiers who had served the army in Bahia, were familiar with the Canudos’s Favela Hill –in reference to Favela, a skin irritating tree- and when they settled in the Providence hill in Rio de Janeiro, they nicknamed the place Favela Hill and hence calling a slum Favela for the first time. The Favelas as we know them were formed prior to the dense occupation of cities and the domination of real estate interests.


The characteristic feature of citizens living in the Favelas i.e. the favela of rocinha in Rio de Janeiro is poverty and hunger. The government has failed to call attention to the problems of poverty and make these issues visible on the national political agenda. Brazilian society had, somehow, avoided the subject throughout the 1980s, and at the level of day–to–day perceptions and practices poverty had become a way of life and accepted. Favelas are built around the edge of the main cities, with time, communities form within the favela. In turn, these communities develop an array of social and religious organizations and they form associations so that they can be able to obtain such services as running water and electricity. Drugs and favela have become woven into a social fabric. The drugs business –especially cocaine- cannot prosper without the existence of the Favela. The church therefore has got a big part to play to help curb down this practise. Most of the people living in the Favelas go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, they listen to their pastors more than they listen to the resident associations or their local government outreach workers. The church has helped in building confidence and dignity, and has helped by playing a significant role in stabilizing the poor Favelas. The church members in the Favelas help each other in building houses, starting businesses and taking care of the sick. In some instances, the pastors have helped counsel gang leaders to reduce violence. The church discourages drinking and handling of illegal drugs, therefore it has helped in counselling individuals associated with the vice to cease altogether.  The church has definitely helped in a positive way to deal with issues in the Favelas; however, some of the stands that the church takes have seen some of the underlying issues of the Favelas hard to tackle. For instance, the Catholic Church discourages the use of birth control measures. This has seen the population continue to spiral beyond control. In addition, the Catholic Church discourages the use of Condoms (it is regarded as a form of birth control), this has made it hard to curb the spread of HIV & AIDS amongst the people living in the Favelas.


Christianity and especially the Catholic Church enjoy wide support from the inhabitants of Brazil. As a religious obligation, they need to see to it that they use their influence to address the issues surrounding people in the Favelas. Religion together with the government have got a huge part to play, the government has got an obligation –legal obligation- to ensure that all its citizens are equally treated, for it is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. The government’s existence is by virtue of the votes of the whole country including the people in the Favelas; therefore, the government has got an obligation to address issues surrounding the Favelas. As mentioned earlier, most of the people living in the Favelas spend their time in churches, therefore the church has got their audience and if properly utilised, they can help reduce the vices so rampant in the Favelas.

Research Methodology
Historical data will be greatly relied upon in the conducting of this research. This will help in understanding the origin of the Favelas. Internet resources will also be relied upon. They will help in cutting costs that the researcher has to incur in terms of travelling expenses in order to conduct the research. Other reports surrounding the issue of Favelas and how religion has either helped or worsened the development of Favelas will be relied upon to help give expert opinions in this subject matter. E-Books and available library books will also be used to get information on the subject.

Importance of the Research

Poverty and hunger are crippling issues. The world all over is trying to see how best it can help kick hunger and poverty out of people’s daily lives. The history of Favelas is rooted in these two issues. Therefore it is important to find out how best hunger and poverty can be tackled so that other vices in the Favelas can be curbed. Without tackling these two main issues, then it would become very hard to address the plight of the Favelas effectively. The findings in this research people will be used to educate people on the origin of the Favelas, the problems surrounding the Favelas, what has been done and what needs to be done to improve the conditions in the Favelas if not eliminating the Favelas altogether. Life in the Favelas has been influential in modern culture, for instance, some movies like Fast Five have had their stories based on the lives in the Favelas. Therefore, there is need to upgrade or positively develop the Favelas so that the culture in the Favelas cannot be copied in other parts of the world; especially for the wrong reasons


Althaus, R at el. (2007). Another Possible World. Presbyterian Pub Corp.

This article gives an overview of how religion came to liberate the oppressed. The Favelas of Brazil in this case are the group which is seen to be oppressed and forgotten even by their government. Althaus asserts that liberation theologies are born from the struggles of the poor and the oppressed. Liberation theology was born upon hearing the cry of the oppressed and contributors believe that another world is possible where justice reigns. The researcher will use this book to try and explain why religion has got a part to play in the positive development of the Favelas.

Arias, E. (2006), Criminal Gangs, Dispute Resolution, and Identity in Rio de Janeiro’s

Favelas. The Myth of Personal Security. American Politics & Society, Winter, Vol. 48 Issue 4, p 53–81.

This article talks about the way drug traffickers resolve disputes and maintain order in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Many scholars who have researched this area have argued that drug traffickers play a major role in controlling crimes and violence as well as resolving conflicts in Rio de Janeiro. This makes the Favela residents have a sense of personal security in a neighbourhood which is dominated by violence. This article will help the researcher to identify the real cause of drug trafficking and how this contributes to the violence or has curbed violence and poverty in the Favelas of Brazil. It will also help the researcher to draw conclusions and inferences based on the findings in this book.

Berryman, P. (2002). Religion in the Megacity: Catholic and Protestant Portraits from Latin America. Orbis Books.


Berryman in his book presents Catholic and Protestant portraits from Latin America describing Roman Catholic, historical Protestant and Pentecostal communities in two Latin America megacities, namely; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Caracas. Pentecostal and evangelical communities have largely grown and have a great influence in the entire world and in these two cities in particular. They were overtaking the Catholics in popularity and it was seen like the whole of Latin America was going Protestant and therefore the inhabitants felt that there was a need to integrate and learn from one another. This book will be of great help to the researcher in understanding the history of religion in the Favelas. Furthermore, the researcher will draw heavily from this book to find out whether the integration of these dominations had an impact on the lives of the Favelas in Brazil.

Perlman, J. E. (2006).The Metamorphosis of Marginality: Four Generations in the Favelas of Rio De Janeiro. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.606 Annals

This article is an overview of a four generational study of residents in three shanty towns (Favelas) in Rio de Janeiro from 1968-2003. It shows how marginalization of urban people has deepened over the past thirty five years. This was contributed by massive drug related violence, the failure of democracy to deliver on its promise, the increase in unemployment and the inability to translate educational knowledge to occupational gain. Despite improvement in consumption of collective urban services, household goods and schooling, few have been successful in moving into good neighbourhoods or even getting a decent job. Gang violence in these Favelas creates fear which makes people unable to work freely. They therefore become unproductive, thereby diminishing the social capital of the society. But still the communities in these Favelas have hopes that their lives will improve in future. This book will lead the researcher into understanding the type of lives these people live and what forced them into this kind of life.

Sharon, D. (2007).  Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization. Fortress Press.


This book is an eye opening look at spiritually motivated action against corporate globalization. It offers an incisive overview and theological analysis of global economic institutions and their effects. It also reveals the larger cultural and social import of globalization. It also gives reports, stories of nonviolent resistance to corporate globalization and gives examples of sustainable alternatives. Humanity faces a living hell of widespread poverty, social upheaval, repression, war, ecological collapse, and human misery. The destructive forces at work in this crisis are not abstract or irreversible, but emerge from actual institutions that hold political, economic, and military power. This book presents an overview of the workings of the institutional “Powers” that make up the system of corporate globalization, including transnational corporations, rule-making bureaucracies such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, and enforcement establishments such as the US military/industrial complex. It suggests ways that people of faith can join with others to “shake the gates of hell,” resisting the horror of a barren, violent, and poisoned future, while developing viable alternatives to help build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. Therefore the researcher will use this book to find out how people through coming together and ‘shaking the gates of hell’, can stop violence and live peacefully in the Favelas. The importance of peaceful living cannot be undermined because, under peaceful conditions, investment shoots or “germinates” from investment seeds which have long been planted by individuals.

Burdick, J. (1993) Looking for God in Brazil: The Progressive Catholic Church in Urban Brazil’s Religious Arena. Illustrated Edition. University of California Press.

For a generation, the Catholic Church in Brazil has enjoyed international renown as one of the most progressive social forces in Latin America. The Church’s creation of Christian Base Communities (CEBs), groups of Catholics who learn to read the Bible as a call for social justice, has been widely hailed. Still, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that the CEBs are lagging far behind the explosive growth of Brazil’s two other major national religious movements–Pentecostalism and Afro-Brazilian Umbanda. On the basis of his extensive fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro, including detailed life histories of women, blacks, youths, and the marginal poor, the author of the book makes us understand why the Radical Catholic Church is losing. From these reasons, the researcher will be able to give a way forward in addressing the weaknesses presented and be able to chart a way forward for the catholic church t revive its stature and consequently the useful programs it had set in place.
Burdick, John. & Hewitt, W. E., (Eds). (2000). The church at the grassroots in Latin America: perspective on thirty Years of activism. Praeger.


Over the past 30 years the liberationist Catholic Church has had a major impact on Latin American society and culture. This edited volume offers both a careful assessment of the Church’s effects on the social, cultural, and political landscape of Latin America, and an analysis of the factors contributing to the liberationist Church’s recent marginalization-including the fragmentation of the Left, the fall of authoritarian regimes, and the rise of powerful competitors in the religious marketplace. Moving away from an exclusive focus on leaders, clergy, and institutional elites, the contributors analyze the local, grassroots level and provide detailed empirical accounts of the day-to-day reality of progressive movements within the Church. Case studies from Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua it illustrates the Church’s impact on politics, labour and land issues, race and gender relations, leadership, and neighbourhood organizations, which have been instrumental in the development of Favelas. The findings in this book will help the researcher understand the influence religion has had on the topics that will be of help in positively influencing the development of Favelas in Brazil.


Rowland, C. (Ed). The Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.
Liberation theology is widely referred to in discussions of politics and religion but not always adequately understood. This book brings the story of the movement’s continuing importance and impact up to date. In the light of a more conservative ethos in Roman Catholicism, and in theology generally, liberation theology is often said to have been an intellectual movement tied to a particular period of ecumenical and political theology. This book will be important to the researcher as it contains essays that  indicate its continuing importance in different contexts which will enable the researcher locate its distinctive intellectual ethos within the evolving contextual and cultural concerns of theology and religious studies. The case study of Brazil in Chapter Seven (7) – The origins and character of the base ecclesial community: a Brazilian perspective- will be of more importance to the researcher.


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