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, political 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 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 adherents, with an estimated of 75% of the national population in nominal Catholicism, from which about 25% are practicing Catholics. According to the CIA Factbook, 90% of the population identifies themselves as Catholic; 10%, other.
In the colonial period, the Catholic Church was created and 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. It also "inherited" a huge amount of land, approx. 1/4 of all the productive land, which was later expropriated by a liberal government.
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. Colombia has been re-consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 2008, in a country-wide ceremony celebrated by the main bishops and with the presence of the Colombian president (also a Catholic).
The Bahá'í Faith in Colombia begins with references to the country in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916, with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1927. The first Colombian joined the religion in 1929 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Bogotá in 1944 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States and achieved an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. By 1963 there were eleven local assemblies. In the 1980s institutions were developed in Colombia that have influenced activities inside and independent of the religion in other countries: FUNDAEC and the Ruhi Institute. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 68,000 Bahá'ís (0.2% of the population) in 2005.
Approximately 0.02% of the population adheres to Islam. There are a number of Islamic organizations in Colombia, including Islamic in San Andrés, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Guajira, Nariño, and Santa Marta. There are also primary and secondary Islamic schools in Bogotá and Maicao. Maicao plays host to the continent's second largest mosque, the Mosque of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab. Most Muslims in Colombia are either of Arab or Madurese descent.
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:
- 81% Roman Catholic.
- 13.5% Protestants
- 1.9% No religious beliefs
- 3.6% Other faiths:
Currently, there seems 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 Colombian-grown Taoist movement has spread significantly in recent years. In the 2000s, temples and congregations were target of a paramilitary repression whose motivations are still unclear. Entire Taoist communities were massacred and leaders kidnapped. In 2008 Taoist communities organised and participated to various peaceful protests in many cities of Colombia.
Syncretism in Colombia
Some syncretic or native 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, 20 July Baby Jesus (Divine Infant Jesus), Father Marianito (beatified Mariano de Jesus Euse Hoyos 1845–1926), the fertility rites of St Isidro and local variations of syncretism from other countries, such as Santería and Maria Lionza cult.
The Anima Sola (lonely soul) often interpreted as a soul in purgatory
Virgin of Regla is the syncretic form of Yemaja
International Religious Freedom Report 2004 on Colombia, U.S. Bureau of Democracy
- CIA World Factbook, 2009
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-87743-233-3.
- Universal House of Justice; prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice. (1986), "In Memoriam", The Bahá'í World of the Bahá'í Era 136-140 (1979–1983) (Bahá'í World Centre), XVIII: 733–736, ISBN 0-85398-234-1
- "Around the World; Colombia". Bahá'í News (577): 19. April 1979.
- "Bahá'ís of Bogotá…". Bahá'í News (172): 11. December 1944.
- Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America: M L VanOrman Enterprises.
- The Bahá'í Faith: 1844–1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963. Haifa, Israel: Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. 1963. pp. 16, 19, 77.
- CRECE: Centro de Estudios Regionales, Cafeteros y Empresariales (August 2001). "Successful Alternatives for Rural Education: Tutorial Learning System (TLS) and New School Methodology Rural Post-Primary". Regional Policy Dialogue on Education and Human Resources Training Network, Second Meeting: Secondary Education. Manizales, Colombia: Inter-American Development Bank. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Canada - Association's 8th annual Conference". Bahá'í News (634): 8–10. January 1984. ISSN 0195-9212.
- "The World; Honduras". Bahá'í News (648): 13. March 1985. ISSN 0195-9212.
- "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - Colombia
- http://www.teleantioquia.com.co/TeleantioquiaensuRegion/Norte2005/PadreMarianito.htm Padre Marianito
- CaribbeanInside.com: Cult to Maria Lionza