Religion in Colombia

Religion in Colombia

The Religion in Colombia is an expression of the different cultural heritages in the Colombian culture including the Spanish colonisation, the Native Amerindian and the Afro-Colombian.

Precolumbian period

Religious freedom

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

Catholicism was 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 Jesus in a Te Deum directed 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 parish without 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. [ [ 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, [ El Tiempo] , indicated that the religious demography is as follows:

Bogotá Latter-Day Saints Temple

*81% Roman Catholic.
*10% Non-evangelical Christians
*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 2005 due 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.

Syncretism in Colombia

Some syncretic religious figures in the country are: The healing ghost of José Gregorio Hernández, the Purgatory souls (Animas del Purgatorio), the Lonely Soul (Anima Sola), the Powerful hand, the Black Christ of Buga, Valle del Cauca, the 20th July Baby Jesus (Divine Infant Jesus), Father Marianito (beatified Mariano de Jesus Euse Hoyos 1845-1926) [ Padre Marianito] , the fertility rites of St Isidro and local variations of syncretism from other countries, such as Santeria and Maria Lionza cult. [] " Cult to Maria Lionza"]



[ International Religious Freedom Report 2004 on Colombia] , U.S. Bureau of Democracy

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