Religion in Namibia (2013 estimate)[1]

  Lutheran Church (43.7%)
  Catholic Church (22.8%)
  Anglican Church (17.0%)
  Other Christian (4.4%)
  Traditional faiths (10.1%)
  No religion (1.5%)
  Others (0.4%)
St. Barbara's Cathedral in Tsumeb.

Religion in Namibia is dominated by various branches of Christianity, with more than 90 percent of Namibian citizens identifying themselves as Christian. According to the government's survey, in 2013 up to 75% of the country was Protestant, including as much as 50% Lutheran.[2]

According to the Namibia Demographic and Health Surveys (2023), the proportions in the age group between 15 and 49 years are:[1]

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion.[2] In 2023, the country was scored 4 out of 4 for religious freedom.[3]

Christianity

Protestantism

Church in Namibia (Lutheran)

Main article: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia

Lutheran church in Swakopmund. Owing to German and Finnish missionary efforts, Lutheranism is the religious affiliation of almost half of the Namibian population.

The largest Christian group in Namibia is the Lutheran church, which consists of 3 church denominations.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) 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. It has episcopal polity and consists of two dioceses.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) grew out of the work of the Rhenish Missionary Society from Germany which began working in the area in 1842. It operates the Evangelical Lutheran Church AIDS program, a business trust operating retreat centres, and a training centre for women which provides training for female leadership roles in society including nursery nurses.[4]

The German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN-GELC) is the smallest of the three churches (approximately 4,500 members). It has episcopal polity, with a single bishop as its leader.

In 2007 the three Lutheran denominations established the United Church Council of the Lutheran Churches in Namibia, with the ultimate aim of becoming one church.[5] The two English-speaking denominations (ELCIN and ELCRN) train their clergy together at a single united seminary, and operate a number of common social programmes.

Catholicism

Catholic cathedral in Windhoek.

Main articles: Catholic Church in Namibia and List of Catholic dioceses in Namibia

The second-largest Christian denomination is Roman Catholicism, and accounts for more than 20% of the population. It consists of three jurisdictions - the two dioceses of Windhoek and Keetmanshoop, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Rundu which is in the process of becoming a third diocese.

An apostolic prefecture was established as early as 1892, but the current metropolitan province and ecclesiastical structure was erected more recently, in 1994.

The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with Namibia through a titular Apostolic Nunciature, but it is unstaffed, and in practice is vested in the Apostolic Nunciature to South Africa in Pretoria.

Other Christian denomination

St Matthew's Anglican Church at Walvis Bay.

The Anglican Church consists of a single diocese (Anglican Diocese of Namibia), forming part of the Metropolitan province of Southern Africa. It is strongest in the north of the country. The Namibian Anglican church gave strong opposition to the imposition of apartheid policies during South African occupation, as a result of which a succession of Anglican diocesan bishops, suffragan bishops, and vicars-general were deported. The Anglican church worships principally in the English and Kwanyama languages.

Smaller numbers are affiliated with the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a number of Zionist Churches (practicing a mixture of traditional African beliefs), and Pentecostal Christianity.[2]

Minor religions

Practitioners of other religions are predominantly immigrants, descendants of immigrants, or recent converts. They reside primarily in urban areas.

Islam is practised by a minority, with Muslims in Namibia being mainly Sunni.[2]

Other religions practised in the country include Judaism (with about 100 members[6]), Buddhism, and the Baháʼí Faith.[2]

Indigenous religions are practiced by the small Himba and San ethnic groups, which comprised less than 1% and 3% respectively of the population i n2007.[7]

Atheists make up 0.02% of the country in 2020.[8]

Education

Government schools include classes on “religious and moral education” which includes moral principles and human rights.[2]

Clerical misconduct in Namibian churches

In the early 2000s it was reported that senior church officials and pastors in Namibia are involved in mismanagement of the churches' funds of millions of Namibian dollars. Many pastors were involved in scams and other serious criminal activities such as rape or handling of counterfeit currency of millions of U. S. dollars.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15] 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 Namibia.[16][17]

In 2022, Namibia police shut down what they called “fake churches” - this was based on allegations that they promoted civil unrest, engaged in unsafe practices, and committed fraud.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Namibia Demographic and Health Survey 2013" (PDF). The Namibia Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and ICF International. September 2014. p. 30. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g US State Dept 2022 report This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08
  4. ^ "Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia". Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  6. ^ "Namibia: Virtual Jewish History Tour". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ The ARDA website, retrieved 2023-08-28
  9. ^ "Pastor Abner prayed while raping minor". The Namibian. 30 November 2010. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014 – via MISA Namibia.
  10. ^ Ekongo, John (30 November 2010). "Pastor dupes land seekers". New Era. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  11. ^ Kisting, Denver (7 October 2011). "Pastor in court over N$700 000". The Namibian. Retrieved 1 November 2014 – via allafrica.com.
  12. ^ Mongudhi, Tileni (4 June 2010). "Church fleeced of half a million". The Namibian. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  13. ^ Mongudhi, Tileni (27 September 2010). "Pastor found guilty of losing church money in scam". The Namibian. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  14. ^ Dentlinger, Lindsay (2 February 2005). "Punches fly: Catholic rift turns violent". The Namibian. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  15. ^ Menges, Werner (18 November 2010). "Church feud settled in court". The Namibian. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Tired Of 'Fake' Pastors". The Namibian. Archived from the original on 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  17. ^ "Church fraud exposed". The Namibian. 2012-04-27. Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2012-04-27.