When I went to South America I decided that I would spend little time upon the material aspects of the trip, but would, on the other hand, attempt to arrive at an understanding of the religious conditions and needs of the people. I consider that the religious needs are the abiding and vital interests of any people.

I knew also that Brazil is counted as being a Roman Catholic country and the consideration at once arose in connection with this fact as to whether this religion affected the life and thought of the people sufficiently to satisfy their religious needs. If it does, then let us be honest enough to recognize it, and if it does not, let us be courageous enough to assume our responsibility towards it for we must hold that the great justification for missionary effort is the evangelical and not the polemical one. If there is no greater reason for our entering a country than for the purpose of fighting the Catholics, then I, for one, am frank to say that I do not think we ought to spend our energies in any such field. The question for us to settle is whether there is a real call for the preaching of the gospel in a given country. That question can be answered only by a candid consideration of the facts in the case and not by the bigoted notion that all who do not agree with us are to be driven from the face of the earth.

What is the religious status of Brazil? Is there any call for Protestant effort? I answer after giving serious study to this question, and after personal observation of the effects of the religious practices upon the people, that there is the same imperative call for missionary effort in Brazil that comes from China or any other heathen country, viz., the gospel is not preached to the people.

The priests hold services, to be sure, in the churches, but there are many churches in Brazil in which there has been no pretense of preaching a sermon within five years. The priests do not preach. They say mass, read prayers and sing songs in Latin, a language which is not understood by the people. Occasionally, a Catholic fraternity will invite a special orator to preach a sermon upon some great feast day. This visiting brother does not preach. His theme upon such an occasion would either be a discussion of the special saint whose day is being celebrated, or he would speak upon some civic question which had more or less to do with the moral or political life of the people. In the interior these special occasions occur only once every two to five years, so that even this semblance of a sermon comes rarely. In the cities these special addresses are made on one saint's day each year or on some special anniversary, or when some dignitary is making a visit. Usually this dignitary will say a mass and not preach. When one of these special days occurs the preaching is not heard very extensively for the reason that the noise and commotion about the stalls for gambling, drinking and other attractions is sufficient to drown the voice of the speaker. These side-show attractions fill all available space about the building, giving it the appearance of a circus more than anything else. They are run by individuals who pay a tax to the church for the privilege. The preaching is not the feature of the day, the chief object seeming to be to furnish amusement for the people and money for the church. It cannot be said that on such days the gospel can possibly be preached successfully.

Occasionally there is held in the church what is called a special mission. This is conducted by visiting monks. We would expect that on such occasions the gospel would be preached, but such is not the case. They hear confessions in the morning. A special premium is placed upon the celebration of marriages during the mission, because these visiting monks will make a cheaper rate than the resident priests. For this reason the majority of the priests do not like to have these monks come in for special missions, and would not conduct them but for the fact that the bishop compels them to do so. The addresses delivered by the monks in these special missions are not sermons. They either upbraid the Protestants, speak against civil marriage (the only legal marriage in Brazil is that performed by a civil officer), inveigh against the Republic, discourse upon the lives of the saints, assail Luther and other reformers, or urge confession, penance and submission to the Pope.

Furthermore, the Bible is withheld from the people. The circulation of no book is so bitterly opposed as that of the Bible. It is true that the Franciscan monks are trying to introduce an edition of the New Testament which contains special comments attacking Protestants. These special editions are very expensive and difficult to secure. The person who wishes to buy one of these Bibles must get permission from the vicar of his parish, and if the would-be purchaser is inclined towards Protestantism, the vicar will refuse to grant permission. The priests are not very much in sympathy with the idea of circulating even this annotated edition of the New Testament.

In Armagoza, near Bahia, the Franciscan monks held, three or four years ago, a mission and sold about 1,000 of these Catholic Scriptures. It seems that the Protestants had also been circulating a Testament which had the same general appearance as that sold by the Franciscan monks. When the monks had sold out their supplies, they heard of what the Protestants had done and inasmuch as the people could not distinguish between the true book and the false, they ordered the people to bring back all of the books to the monks, under the promise that they would examine them, eliminate the Protestant book and return to the owners the authorized Bible. The people brought back their books in good faith. The monks took them, but never returned them. Neither did they return the money.

On the 22nd of February, 1903, there occurred a public burning of Bibles in Pernambuco. This was done in defiance of the Protestant work with the evident purpose of intimidating the Protestant workers and arousing a public sentiment against them.

But having failed in this, their first effort, they decided to try another even more ostentatious.

Although it is illegal to burn any religious document publicly, yet the first burning passed unnoticed by the officials of the law. But not so the second.

Having incurred the censure and ill-will of many of the most thoughtful and liberal-minded, even of the Catholics themselves, by the disgrace of February 22nd, the directors of the Anti- Protestant League decided to make a grand rally on the occasion of the league's first anniversary, September 27th. And to realize this, they published about two weeks beforehand a very extensive program. The program said that "there will be burned 26 Bibles, 42 Testaments, 45 copies of the Gospel of Matthew, Luke 9, John 12, Mark 4 and Acts 9", besides a great many other useful books. In the list also there were some three hundred copies of different religious Protestant papers.

According to the program the bishop was to preside. The public burning, however, was not performed. Such pressure was brought to bear upon the officials that they interfered. It was even discussed in the National House of Congress. But in spite of all opposition, not to be completely defeated, they burned the Bibles in the back yard of the church.

These examples are sufficient to demonstrate the attitude of the priests towards the Scriptures, and we must concede that any church or set of men who by such methods withhold from the people the Word of God cannot be said to preach the gospel. He is an enemy of the gospel who puts any restraint upon the circulation of the Scriptures. It is wise indeed for the sake of their cause that these opponents of Protestantism should oppose the circulation of the Scriptures, for we shall cite numerous instances of how the Bible unaided has broken down Romish superstition and turned men from dark error into the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus.