Society

Religious Beliefs In Guatemala

Once overwhelmingly Catholic, Protestantism and irreligion have gained significant ground in recent years in Guatemala.

Guatemala is a country in Central America at the southern side of Mexico and is officially known as the Republic of Guatemala. Its capital, Guatemala City which is also the largest city, is home to the national palace of culture and the national museum of archaeology and ethnology. It is the most populous state in South America with a population of approximately 15.8 million with an area coverage of 42,042 square miles. Christianity remains a strong and vital in Guatemalan society as it is the main religion in the country.

Religious Beliefs In Guatemala

Roman Catholic Christianity

The Catholic Church in Guatemala is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church in Rome under the leadership of the Pope. It was introduced into the country by the Spanish colonialists in the 16th century and remained the predominant religion in the country until the 20th century. Due to the increasing number of Protestants in the country, a religious movement by the charismatic Catholics was launched. The movement sought to increase the number of Catholic converts. Therefore, several priests worked towards ensuring this. Currently, the Roman Catholics in the country form approximately 50% of the country’s population, hence remains the dominant religion.

Protestant Christianity

Protestant Christianity in Guatemala is the second largest religion in the country constituting up to 37% of the entire population. The first Protestant missionary to arrive in Guatemala was Frederick Crowe in 1843 but was expelled by President Rafael Carrera, a Roman Catholicism fanatic, in 1845. In 1882, President Rufino Barrios invited several Presbyterian Methodist, and Baptist missionaries into the country to challenge the power of Roman Catholic Church. The number of Protestant Christians remained low until the arrival of the Pentecostal Protestants from the United States. Protestants in the country are mainly located in the northern highlands and are mainly the Mayan population.

Atheism, Agnosticism, or Irreligion

Atheism, Agnosticism, or Irreligion is the belief in the non-existence of a supreme creator or time referred to as non-religious in Guatemala. The most recent survey conducted in 2010 in the country revealed that up to 11% of the country’s population have no particular religion. It is among the countries with the highest number of atheists in Latin America.

Other beliefs

Approximately 2% of the entire Guatemalan population are of other religions evident in the country. Among the minority religions include Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Traditional Maya Religion, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Religious freedoms, religious tolerance in Guatemala

There no official state religion in Guatemala but despite this, the country’s constitution recognizes the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church. For other religious affiliations to be recognized by the constitution, they have have be approved by the government regulators. The Guatemalan constitution in Article 36 also recognizes freedom of religion to all citizens which is honored and protected by law. At the end of the civil war, missionary activities heightened in Guatemala and Protestants denominations have greatly grown. The denominations have lived in a mutual coexistence with little friction among them.

RankBelief SystemShare of Population in Contemporary Guatemala
1Roman Catholic Christianity50%
2Protestant Christianity37%
3Atheism, Agnosticism, or Irreligion11%
Other Beliefs2%

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