Religion in Namibia
More than 90 percent of Namibian citizens identify themselves as Christian, with 75 percent as Protestant, including as much as 50 percent as Lutheran. The largest Christian group is the Lutheran church, which is split into three churches: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN), which grew out of the work of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (earlier known as the Finnish Missionary Society) which began in 1870 among the Ovambo and Kavango people; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), which grew out of the work of the Rhenish Missionary Society from Germany which began working in the area in 1842; and the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN-GELC). In 2007 the three churches established the United Church Council of the Lutheran Churches in Namibia, with the ultimate aim to become one church.
The second-largest Christian denomination is Roman Catholicism. Smaller numbers are affiliated with the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), New Apostolic Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Branhamism, a number of Zionist Churches (a mixture of traditional African beliefs), and Pentecostal Christianity. The Dutch Reformed Church of Namibia is predominantly made up of members of the Afrikaner ethnic group. The Himba and San ethnic groups comprise less than 1 percent and 3 percent respectively, practice indigenous religions.
Other religions practiced in the country include Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and the Baha'i Faith. Practitioners of these religious groups are predominantly immigrants, descendants of immigrants, or recent converts. They reside primarily in urban areas. There are few atheists in the country. Muslims in Namibia are almost exclusively Sunni. The total number of Muslims in the country is in dispute; estimations range from less than 1% to 3%. The Jewish community has about 100 members.
Foreign missionary groups operate in the country. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The US government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice in 2007.
It has been reported that senior church officials and pastors in Namibia are involved in mismanagement of the church's funds of millions of Namibian dollars. Many pastors were involved in scams and other serious criminal activities such as rape, handling of counterfeit currency of millions of U. S. dollars. This has resulted in serious spiritual and moral degradation of church environment and church leaders. The Namibian government is to investigate and combat such illegal practices so as to maintain the Integrity, Dignity, esteemed purpose and high standards of such religious institutions in Namibian Society.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Namibia. 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.
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