The loyal Catholics are also far more likely to believe in good luck charms, fortune-tellers, faith-healers and astrology than are converts to Protestantism. While official Catholicism rejects these beliefs as superstitious, they are a risk inherent in the Catholic imagination, which sees God as present in the objects, events and persons of his creation. Perhaps those who became Protestant rejected not only patent superstition but also images and stories of God that might be conducive to it. Or the rejection may have come after conversion, as the new Protestants learned to dislike the overlay of syncretism in Brazilian Catholicism. Perhaps they did not like the New Year’s Eve ceremonies, the Bonfim (feast of the happy death) or Carnival before their conversion, or perhaps conversion developed latent dislike for such apparently pagan ceremonies.
The converts are also more likely to believe that God cares for humans as individual persons (76 percent versus 69 percent) and that God makes life meaningful (87 percent versus 74 percent). Once more the Brazilian scores on these items are the highest of any country I.S.S.P. has studied.
Brazil, then, is a country where the Catholic imagination and its unfortunate links to superstition and syncretism are very strong. The converts to Protestantism tend to reject these elements of Catholicism either as a cause or a consequence (or a possible combination) of their conversion. In their intense and devout fundamentalist Protestantism, there is no room for such images and metaphors.