Monday, September 25, 2006

Religious freedom in El Salvador

Each year the US State Department releases a country by country report on religious freedom. The 2006 report was released on September 15. El Salvador received passing grades with the "generally free practice of religion."

The report had these statistics about the religious affiliations of the Salvadoran population:

The country has an area of 8,108 square miles and an estimated population of approximately 6.7 million. The country was predominantly Roman Catholic, with a sizeable Protestant minority, plus small communities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Hare Krishna, Muslims, and Jews, among others. A very small segment of the population practiced an indigenous religion.

According to a 2003 survey by the Technological University Public Opinion Center, approximately 57.1 percent of the population was Roman Catholic. Additionally, 21.2 percent were members of Protestant churches. (Among Protestants, informal church estimates suggested approximately 35 percent were Baptists and members of Assemblies of God.) Members of Jehovah's Witnesses accounted for an estimated 1.9 percent of the population, 0.7 percent were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2.3 percent were associated with other churches and religious groups, and 16.8 percent were not affiliated with any church or religion.

Several missionary groups were active, including Mormon, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and Assembly of God.



Yahoo! News reports the grizzly murder of a priest in Santa Catarina Masahuat. "The Rev. Ricardo Romero's body was found next to his car 42 miles west of the capital of San Salvador, with his skull crushed. Police said initial investigations ruled out robbery or kidnapping as a motive."

The good news on free exercise of religion in El Salvador will always have the sinister caveat contained in the article: El Salvador is "a country with a troubling history of killing religious figures."

Anonymous said...

A death squad killed Romero. I mean, there was no sign of attempted robbery, kidnapping as you say. He was just smashed with a rock. This guy was moved from the Sonsonate Cathedral to a church, because of his "subersive" views, or rather said progressist, and just views. Something that has always been anthenema of the retrograde fascist scum that rule the country.

HODAD26 said...

and ONE Buddhist , me!

Anonymous said...

And me? An Atheist.

wally said...

The stats were interesting to read, as I have had several times since I moved here that El Salvador is one of the few Latin countries on the verge of becoming more Evangelical, which seems to be the term used here in place of Prostestant, than Catholic. The figures I have heard were represented to be more in line with Evangelicals having close to a 50% split with the Catholics. I find no fault with the stats quoted here, I would just be curious to hear if any of your readers have heard or read similiar things.

Tim said...

I think the statistics depend greatly on how you ask the question. I would guess that a great many more Salvadorans identify themselves as Catholic than are practicing Catholics. Whereas the number of people who identify themselves as evangelical may be more likely to be regularly participating in such churches.

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