Religion in Colombia

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Religion in Colombia (2014) - Pew Research Center [1]

  Catholicism (79%)
  Protestantism (13%)
  Unaffiliated (6%)
  Other (2%)

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Religion in Colombia - Other studies [2][3]

  Catholicism (70.9%)
  Protestantism (16.7%)
  Atheist or agnostic (4.7%)
  Claim to believe in God but do not follow a specific religion (3.5%)
  Other (0.2%)
  The remaining people either did not respond or replied that they did not know. (2.2%)

Religion in Colombia is an expression of the different cultural heritages in the Colombian culture including the Spanish colonization, the Native Amerindian and the Afro-Colombian, among others. 35.9% of Colombians reported that they did not practice their faith actively.[2]

Pre-Columbian period[edit]

Main article: Muisca mythology

Religious freedom[edit]

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 from the Spanish colonization until the 1991 constitutional reform (National Constituent Assembly), which granted egalitarian 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.[4]

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, astronomical 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 acquired by the government.[citation needed]

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).


Protestantism, primarily Evangelicalism, now represents 13% of the Colombian populace, and is growing faster than the national growth rate. "Evangelicos" (as they are called in Colombia) hold to the authority of the Bible and the necessity of belief in Jesus Christ to be saved. Many of them belong to Pentecostal churches, but other churches are active as well.

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Colombia begins with references to the country in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916,[5] with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1927.[6] The first Colombian joined the religion in 1929[7] and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Bogotá in 1944[8] with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States and achieved an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1961.[9] By 1963 there were eleven local assemblies.[10] In the 1980s institutions were developed in Colombia that have influenced activities inside and independent of the religion in other countries: FUNDAEC[11][12] and the Ruhi Institute.[13] 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.[14]


Main article: Islam in Colombia

Approximately 0.02% of the population adheres to Islam.[15] 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[edit]

Although the government does not keep official statistics on religious affiliation, a 2001 poll commissioned by the country's leading newspaper, El Tiempo,[16] indicated that the religious demography is as follows:

As of 2013, there seems to be no social controversy or problem arising from religious conflict.[according to whom?] Religious discrimination is prohibited by the constitution and there is no official religion; however, the state is also explicitly not supposed to be indifferent to religious sentiments and the Catholic church has a privileged status.[17] All cities and towns in Colombia have a church, but there are also some temples, mosques and synagogues 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.[18] Entire Taoist communities were massacred and leaders kidnapped.[18] In 2008 Taoist communities organised and participated to various peaceful protests in some cities of Colombia.[19]

Religious statistics[edit]

The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) does not collect religious statistics, and accurate reports are difficult to obtain. However, based on various studies and a survey, about 90% of the population adheres to Christianity, the majority of which (70.9%) are Roman Catholic, while a significant minority (16.7%) adhere to Protestantism (primarily Evangelicalism). Some 4.7% of the population is atheist or agnostic, while 3.5% claim to believe in God but do not follow a specific religion. 1.8% of Colombians adhere to Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventism and less than 1% adhere to other religions, such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Indigenous religions, Hare Krishna movement, Rastafari movement, Orthodox Catholic Church, and spiritual studies. The remaining people either did not respond or replied that they did not know. In addition to the above statistics, 35.9% of Colombians reported that they did not practice their faith actively. [2][3][1]

While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion.[20]

Syncretism in Colombia[edit]

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),[21] the fertility rites of St Isidro and local variations of syncretism from other countries, such as Santería and Maria Lionza cult.[22]


See also[edit]


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

  1. ^ a b "Religion in Latin America, Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region". Pew Research Center. November 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Del monopolio católico a la explosión pentecostal'" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Centro de Estudios Sociales (CES), Maestría en Sociología. ISBN 978-958-761-465-7. 
  3. ^ a b Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Descripción cuantitativa de la pluralización religiosa en Colombia" (PDF). Universitas humanística 73 (2012): 201–238. – 
  4. ^ CIA World Factbook, 2009
  5. ^ `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. 
  6. ^ Universal House of Justice; prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice. (1986), "In Memoriam", The Bahá'í World, Bahá'í World Centre, XVIII: 733–736, ISBN 0-85398-234-1 
  7. ^ "Around the World; Colombia". Bahá'í News (577): 19. April 1979. 
  8. ^ "Bahá'ís of Bogotá…". Bahá'í News (172): 11. December 1944. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Canada - Association's 8th annual Conference". Bahá'í News (634): 8–10. January 1984. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  13. ^ "The World; Honduras". Bahá'í News (648): 13. March 1985. ISSN 0195-9212. 
  14. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  15. ^ "Colombia". Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "El Tiempo". Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  17. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report for 2013: Columbia". US State Department. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  18. ^ a b "Tao Community in Colombia". 27 October 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  19. ^ keliumzeus (15 March 2008). "Marcha TAO. Marcha en la Capital Colombiana. CARACOL". Retrieved 19 August 2016 – via YouTube. 
  20. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II – Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties – Chapter I – Concerning fundamental rights – Article 19)
  21. ^ Padre Marianito
  22. ^ [1] Cult to Maria Lionza