The Central American nation of Nicaragua has a population of around 6 million inhabitants. According to the CIA World Factbook, Christianity is the largest religion in Nicaragua. 50% of the country’s inhabitants adhere to Roman Catholicism. Evangelicalism is the next most popular Christian denomination with its followers accounting for 33.2% of the population. Followers of other Christian denominations and other religions represent 2.9% of the population. 13.2% of the Nicaraguans do not specify their affiliation with any religion. 0.7% of the population claims not to adhere to a religion.
Roman Catholicism In Nicaragua
The Spanish conquest in the 16th century introduced and popularized Roman Catholicism in Nicaragua. Since then and until 1939, Roman Catholicism remained the established faith in the nation. The church at that time was not separate from the state. The church enjoyed an advantageous position and its authorities had great say in matters of the state. However, when José Santos Zelaya started office as the President of Nicaragua in 1893, he began challenging the position of the church. Since 1939, the country’s constitution has provided the freedom of religion and declared Nicaragua as a secular state. Despite this fact, Roman Catholicism continued to dominate the religious scene in the country although its influence on politics was significantly diminished. Even today, the Roman Catholic Church has significant influence in the academic institutions and during moments of political crisis. Most of the Roman Catholics in Nicaragua belong to the upper and middle classes living in urban areas.
Other Christian Beliefs In Nicaragua
The popularity of Protestantism and other denominations of Christianity in Nicaragua started growing since the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, over these faiths had gained a significant number of followers in the country, especially Evangelicalism. Most of the non-Catholic churches in Nicaragua were established due to the efforts by missionaries who arrived from the United States in large numbers. Although these churches are now institutionally independent in the country and led by the natives, they still maintain close relations with those in the US.
Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Nicaragua
Religion plays an important role in the lives of all Nicaraguans and shapes the culture of the country. As mentioned earlier, the Constitution of the country provides for the freedom of religion. The government promotes religious tolerance. Although there is no official religion in Nicaragua, the opinions of Catholic bishops in matters of state matters significantly.