Religion in Kiribati

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According to 2012 government statistics, Christian groups form about 96% of the Kiribati population by census counts. Kiribati's christian population goes as followed: 56% are members of the Roman Catholic Church, 34% are members of the Kiribati Protestant Church, 5% are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and 2% are members of the Seventh-day Adventists.[1] Several of the smaller Christian churches claim to have higher numbers of adherents, but there is no independent confirmation.[2] Persons with no religious affiliation account for less than 1% of the population.[1] Members of the Catholic Church are concentrated in the northern islands, while Protestants are the majority in the southern islands.[2]

Missionaries introduced Christianity into the area in the mid-19th century.[2] They are currently present and operate freely.[2] The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.[2] Societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice occur, but are relatively infrequent.[2]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

The only substantial non-Christian population is of the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í Faith in Kiribati begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion to the Gilbert Islands which form part of modern Kiribati.[3] The first Bahá'ís pioneered to the island of Abaiang(aka Charlotte Island, of the Gilbert Islands), on March 4, 1954.[4] They encountered serious opposition from some Catholics on the islands and were eventually deported and the first convert banished to his home island.[5] However in one year there was a community of more than 200 Bahá'ís[6] and a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly.[7] Three years later the island where the first convert was sent to was found to now have 10 Bahá'ís. By 1963 there were 14 assemblies.[8]

As the Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu and the Gilbert Islands and others formed Kiribati, the communities of Bahá'ís also reformed into separate institutions of National Spiritual Assemblies in 1981.[9] The Bahá'ís had established a number schools by 1963[8] and there are still such today - indeed the Ootan Marawa Bahá'í Vocational Institute being the only teacher training institution for pre-school teachers in Kiribati.[4] The census figures are consistently between 2 and 3% for the Bahá'ís while the Bahá'ís claim numbers above 17%.[5] All together the Bahá'ís now claim more than 10,000 local people have joined the religion over the last 50 years and there are 38 local spiritual assemblies.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Report on the Kiribati 2010 Census of Population and Housing - Volume 1: Basic Information and Tables" (PDF). National Statistics Office. August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Kiribati. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 40–42. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  4. ^ a b c Bahá'í International Community (2004-03-04). "Sailing in for a jubilee". Bahá'í World News Service. 
  5. ^ a b Hassall, Graham (1996). "Bahá'í Faith in the Asia Pacific Issues and Prospects". Bahá'í Studies Review 6. pp. 1–10. 
  6. ^ Finau, Makisi; Teeruro Ieuti; Jione Langi (1992). Forman, Charles W., ed. Island Churches: Challenge and Change. Pacific Theological College and Institute for Pacific Studies. pp. 101–2, 107. ISBN 978-982-02-0077-7. 
  7. ^ Graham, Hassall (1992). "Pacific Baha'i Communities 1950-1964". In Rubinstein, Donald H. (ed). Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference. University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam. pp. 73–95. 
  8. ^ a b Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. "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". pp. 26, 28. 
  9. ^ Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-02.