- Religion in Colombia
The Colombian Constitution of 1991 abolished the previous condition of the Roman Catholic Church as state church, and it includes two articles providing for freedom of worship:
*Art. 13: States that "all people are legally born free and equal" and that they will not be discriminated on the basis of "sex, race, national or familial origin, language, "religion", politic or philosophical opinion".
*Art. 19: Which expressly guarantees freedom of religion. "Freedom of religion is guaranteed. Every individual has the right to freely profess his/her religion and to disseminate it individually or collectively. All religious faiths and churches are equally free before the law."
Catholicism in Colombia
Catholicismwas the official religion of the country since the Spanish colonization until the 1991 constitutional reform ( National Constituent Assembly), which granted equalitarian treatment from the government to all the religions. However, Catholicism is still the main religion in Colombia by number of adepts, with an estimated of 75% of the national population in nominal Catholicism, from which about 25% are practicing catholics.
Colombia is often referred as the Country of the Sacred Heart, due to the annual consecration of the country to the
Sacred Heart of Jesusin a Te Deumdirected by the President of the republic.
In the colonial period, the Catholic Church created and was in charge of most of the public institutions, such as teaching facilities (schools, colleges, universities, libraries, botanical gardens, astronomic observatories); health facilities (Hospitals, nurseries, leper hospitals) and jails.
Some criticism against the Catholic Church are about alleged negligence in the management of priests accused of acts pedophilia and ephebophilia, which often were treated with counseling and transferring to a different
parishwithout legal actions. Also the involvement in political issues have been controversial, like in the bipartisan violence period ( La Violencia) when the media and some dissident priests such as Fidel Blandon denounced that the Catholic Church for what they saw as an encouragement of the people to take violent actions against politically liberal opponents, purportedly accusing them of participating in a Jewish or Masonic conspiracy, similar to that which Church opponents claimed in the Spanish civil war. [ [http://www.causageneral.com Causa General] , conclusions of the process started by Franco's government after the war to judge their enemies' actions during the conflict]
Other religious affiliations
Although the Government does not keep official statistics on religious affiliation, a 2001 poll commissioned by the country's leading newspaper, [http://eltiempo.terra.com.co El Tiempo] , indicated that the religious demography is as follows:
*3.5% Evangelical Christians
*1.9% No religious beliefs
*3.6% Other faiths:
Seventh-day Adventist Church: about 180.000 members
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: about 130.000 members
Jehovah's Witnesses: about 120.000 members.
Judaism: between 5.000 and 10.000 members.
**Islam: figures unknown, probably below 2.000.
Currently, there seem to be no social controversy or problem arising from religious conflict. Freedom of religion is enforced by the State and well tolerated in the Colombian culture. Almost all cities and towns in Colombia have a church, but there are also
temples, mosques and synagogues, especially in the largest cities.
A small Taoist commune exists in the Santander department, which was the target of a police operation in
2005due to suspicion of being a weapons storage and a site of criminal activity. Some of the members captured had a criminal background and evidence was found that indicated the presence of illegal activity. Syncretismin Colombia
Some syncretic religious figures in the country are: The healing ghost of
José Gregorio Hernández, the Purgatorysouls (Animas del Purgatorio), the Lonely Soul ( Anima Sola), the Powerful hand, the Black Christof Buga, Valle del Cauca, the 20th July Baby Jesus( Divine Infant Jesus), Father Marianito ( beatifiedMariano de Jesus Euse Hoyos 1845-1926) [http://www.teleantioquia.com.co/TeleantioquiaensuRegion/Norte2005/PadreMarianito.htm Padre Marianito] , the fertility ritesof St Isidro and local variations of syncretism from other countries, such as Santeriaand Maria Lionzacult. [http://religions.caribbeaninside.com/showreligion.do?code=002] "CarribeanInside.com: Cult to Maria Lionza"]
[http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35531.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2004 on Colombia] , U.S. Bureau of Democracy
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