Religion in Belize
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Belize is a small country with a total population of 322,453 according to the 2010 census. The largest single denomination is the Roman Catholic Church with about 40.1% of the population (129,456 adherents), a reduction from 49.4% of the population in 2000 and 57.71% in 1991, although absolute numbers have still risen. Other major groups include Pentecostal with 8.4% of the population up from 7.4% in 2000 and 6.3% in 1991, Seventh-day Adventists with 5.4% of the population up from 5.2% in 2000 and 4.1% in 1991. The following of the Anglican Church has been steadily declining, with only 4.7% of the population in 2010 compared to 6.95% in 1991. About 12,000 Mennonites (3.7% of the population) live mostly in the rural districts of Cayo and Orange Walk. People who declared they belong to no religion make up 15.5% of the population (just under 50,000 people) in 2010, more than double their 2000 census numbers. 11.2% adhere to other religions which include the Maya religion, Afro-American religions (Garifuna religion, Obeah and Myalism), Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Bahá'ís, Rastafarians and others.
The 2010 census also found 216 Bahá'ís (down slightly from the 2000 census which found 219). It also found small numbers of Buddhists (820 or 0.3% of the population), Hindus (about 650), and Muslims (about 620). However, the Association of Religion Data Archives states that as of 2005, 2.5% of the population identifies as Bahá'í, 2.0% identifies as Hindu, 1.1% identifies as Jewish, 1.0% identifies as spiritists, 0.6% identifies as followers of indigenous religions, 0.5% identifies as Muslim, and 0.5% identifies as Buddhist. They estimate there were 7,776 Bahá'ís in Belize in that year, as well as the highest proportion of Bahá'ís in any country (though not nearly the highest absolute number).
Belizean Roman Catholic churches belong to the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan; Anglican churches belong to the Diocese of Belize, part of the Church in the Province of the West Indies. Catholics frequently visit the country for special gospel revivals. The Greek Orthodox Church has a presence in Santa Elena. Muslims have been in Belize since the 18th century. Activism of the 1960s saw many converts to Islam. It is also common among Middle Eastern immigrants and has gained a following among some Kriols. Mosques continue to be built in major cities. Hinduism is followed by most Indian immigrants.
The Constitution of Belize provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The Government at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. According to the United States Department of State, the Government generally respects religious freedom in practice; however, it does note that the sole prison is managed by a Christian non-government organization and that one member of the 13 member senate is appointed by the Governor General with advice of the Council of Churches and the Evangelical Association of Churches. In 2014, the U.S. government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.
- Roman Catholicism in Belize
- History of Roman Catholicism in Belize
- Mennonites in Belize
- Islam in Belize
- Hinduism in Belize
- Belize Population and Housing Census 2010: Country Report (PDF). Belmopan, Belize C.A.: he Statistical Institute of Belize. 2013. p. 23. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- National Census Report 2000, Belize (PDF). pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-976-600-209-1. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- "Facts and Statistics: Belize". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "Belize: Religious Adherents (2010)". The Association for Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". The Association for Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Orthodox Church of Belize homepage
- Muslim community officially opens Belize City Mosque
- "International Religious Freedom Report for 2014: Belize". United States Department of State. Retrieved 22 November 2015.