Religion in Papua New Guinea
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Religion in Papua New Guinea is predominantly Christian, with traditional animism and ancestor worship often occurring less openly as another layer underneath or more openly side by side Christianity. The courts, government, and general society uphold a constitutional right to freedom of speech, thought, and belief. There is no state religion, although the government openly partners with several Christian groups to provide services, and churches participate in local government bodies.
A large majority of Papua New Guineans identify themselves as members of a Christian church (96% in the 2000 census); however, many combine their Christian faith with traditional indigenous beliefs and practices. Other religions represented in the country include the Baháʼí Faith, Hinduism and Islam.
in Papua New Guinea
The 2000 census percentages were as follows:
- Roman Catholic Church (27.0%)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (19.5%)
- United Church (11.5%)
- Seventh-day Adventist Church (10.0%)
- Pentecostal (8.6%)
- Evangelical Alliance (PNG) (5.2%)
- Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea (3.2%)
- Baptist (0.5%)
- Salvation Army (0.2%)
- Other Christian (10%)
- Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%)
- Church of Christ (0.4%)
Iglesia ni Cristo, a Philippine base Christian church had already set its foot in the country.
The Papua New Guinea Council of Churches members are:
- Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
- Gutnius Lutheran Church (associated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod)
- Union Baptist
- Roman Catholic Church
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea
- United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
- Salvation Army
There are also a number of parachurch organizations:
- The Summer Institute of Linguistics is a missionary institution drawing its support from conservative evangelical Protestant churches in the United States and to a lesser extent Australia; it translates the Bible into local languages and conducts extensive linguistic research.
- Young Women's Christian Association.
Several Christian professional educational institutions have been opened in the country, such as Christian Leaders' Training College, Divine Word University, Pacific Adventist University and Sonoma Adventist College.
The Baháʼí Faith in Papua New Guinea began after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Baháʼís should take the religion there. The first Baháʼís moved (referred to as "Baháʼí pioneering") to Papua New Guinea in 1954. With local converts the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958. The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969. According to the census of 2000, the number of Baháʼís does not exceed 21,000. But the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated three times more Baháʼís at 60,000 or 0.9% of the nation in 2005 Either way it is the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, albeit a small one. Among its more well known members are the late Margaret Elias and the late Sirus Naraqi.
Margaret Elias was the daughter of the first Papua New Guinean woman on the national assembly, and the country's first woman lawyer (in the 1970s). She attended the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and was given an award in 1995 and 2002 for her many years in the public service, particularly in the national government. She went on to support various initiatives for education.
Sirus Naraqi lived and worked in Papua New Guinea from 1977 to 1979 and from 1983 to 1998, doing clinical medical work as well as teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea, where he was given an award in 1999 and had served as a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Australasia since 1985.
Islam in Papua New Guinea counts for more than 5,000 followers, (most of whom are Sunni) mainly as a result of a recent spike in conversions. Despite being a dominant religion in neighbouring Indonesia, adherents of Islam make up a small segment of the population.
New religious movements
The constitution of Papua New Guinea establishes freedom of religion and religious practice, provided that it does not infringe on the rights of others or of the public interest. There is no state religion, although the preamble to the constitution mentions "the Christian principles" the country is founded upon. Parliament sessions and most official government functions open and close with Christian prayer. Since 2016, the government has pursued programs to increase the partnership between churches and the state, including subsidies to churches and the establishment of church councils to assist in local governance.
Religious groups are required to register the government in order to hold property and obtain tax-exempt status. Foreign missionaries are allowed into the country on special work visas with lower fees than other visa categories.
Churches operate roughly half of the educational and medical institutions in the country, and receive government subsidies to provide these services. Public schools provide one hour of non-compulsory religious education per week; in practice, few students opt out of these lessons. Government officials have discussed plans to make religious education compulsory, but as of the end of 2017, these were not implemented.
Religious leaders have stated that religious groups are generally able to practice their religion without interference. However, there have been multiple incidences of Muslim refugees and asylum seekers being the targets of stabbings. Other Muslim residents of Papua New Guinea have not faced such attacks.
In the past, the Papuan government were opposed towards formally recognizing Islam and it's institutions. However, the government has reportedly threatened to ban Islam to the present day. There are reports of native Muslims experiencing discrimination and even violence from the Christian majority.
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- Islamic Society of Papua New Guinea
- Anglican history in Papua New Guinea - primary texts
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