Religion in Venezuela (2022)[1]

  Catholicism (64.2%)
  Evangelicalism (22.0%)
  Other Christians (3.9%)
  No religion (8.3%)
  Others (1.6%)
Interior of the Barquisimeto Metropolitan Cathedral

Christianity is the largest religion in Venezuela, with Catholicism having the most adherents.

Venezuela is a secular nation and its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Before the arrival of Spanish missionaries, the people residing in the territory of modern day Venezuela practiced a variety of faiths.

Overview

The influence of the Catholic Church was introduced in its colonization by Spain. According to a 2011 poll (GIS XXI), 88 percent of the population is Christian, primarily Roman Catholic (71%), and the remaining 17 percent Protestant, primarily Evangelicals (in Latin America Protestants are usually called Evangelicos). The Venezuelans without religion are 8% (atheist 2% and agnostic or indifferent 6%), almost 3% of the population follow other religion (1% of them are of santeria).[2]

There are small but influential Muslim, Druze,[3][4] Buddhist, and Jewish communities. The Muslim community of about 95,000 is concentrated among persons of Lebanese and Syrian descent living in Nueva Esparta State, Punto Fijo and the Caracas area; Venezuela is home of the largest Druze communities outside the Middle East,[5] and has a significant Druze community (60,000)[5] from the same countries (a former vice president is Druze, showing the small group's influence).[3] Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people. The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia. The Jewish community numbers approximately 13,000 and is mainly concentrated in Caracas.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) claims 173,125 members (April 2022) mostly in and around Caracas.[6]

Jehovah's Witnesses claim 136,542 active publishers, united in 1,734 congregations; 319,962 people attended annual celebration of Lord's Evening Meal in 2020.[7]

Venezuela is also notable for its significant syncretic religious traditions, most notably those revolving around the figures of Maria Lionza and Jose Gregorio Hernandez.

In Venezuela, a population of Santeria followers has been growing since 2008.[8] Rituals in Santeria include the slaughtering of a rooster, a chicken, or a goat.[9]

Detailed religious affiliation in Venezuela. (2011, GIS XXI)[2]
Affiliation % of Venezuela population
Christian 88 88
 
Catholic 71 71
 
Protestant and other Christians 17 17
 
Other faiths 3 3
 
Santería 1 1
 
Atheist 2 2
 
Agnostic/indifferent 6 6
 
Don't know/refused answer 1 1
 
Total 100 100
 

Religious freedom

The constitution of Venezuela provides for the freedom of religion insofar as it does not violate "public morality or decency". A 2017 constitutional law criminalizes "incitement to hatred" or violence, including provisions specifically concerning the incitement of hatred against religious groups.[10]

Religious organizations must register with the government in order to obtain legal status. The Directorate of Justice and Religion, part of the Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace, manages registrations, disburses funds to registered organizations, and promotes religious tolerance. Chaplain services in the military are available only for Catholics.[10]

Religious education is allowed in public schools, although it is not part of any official curriculum proposed by the government.[10] In the past, representatives of the Catholic Church-affiliated National Laity Council have claimed that the government has at times pressured school administrators to not teach religious courses, but that in other cases teachers had autonomy to include religious education as long as their curricula were otherwise compliant with the Ministry of Education's standards.[11]

Leaders of religious organizations who are vocal critics of the government faced verbal harassment by regime leaders. Jewish community leaders have accused state-funded media and some government officials of engaging in antisemitic rhetoric.[10]

In 2023, the country was scored 3 out of 4 for religious freedom.[12]

Catholic Church in Venezuela

The Catholic Church in Venezuela has around 31 million faithful, which represents 98% of the population. There are 37 jurisdictions present including 25 dioceses, 9 archdioceses, 3 vicariates apostolic, plus separate jurisdictions for the Melkite and Syrian rites, and also a military ordenate.

The Catholic manifestations in Venezuela are very varied, which means that in many regions they venerate a Marian dedication or a specific saint, as well as the realization of various fairs, masses, processions and parties for each patron saint of Catholicism. In this way, for example, in Zulia the Chinita Fair is celebrated, in Nueva Esparta the Virgen del Valle is celebrated and in Lara, the Divina Pastora is celebrated.

Protestant Churches in Venezuela

Cristo Vive Church in Rubio, the oldest evangelical facility church in Venezuela founded by Scandinavian missionaries.
"EL Redentor". Presbyterian Evangelical Church. The oldest congregation of Caracas, founded by Colombian and American missionaries
"Emanuel" Baptist Church, in La Castellana, Caracas. Founded by Venezuelan believers
Sion - Assemblies of God, in Barquisimeto, founded by Venezuelan and American ladies.

Protestantism is a branch of Christianity that has its origins in the reform initiated by Martin Luther and other theologians as a critical response to the Catholic Church at the time. In general, Protestantism in Latin America has constituted, since the beginning of the Spanish conquest and colonization of America, a very minority sector of the Christian population that has been growing exponentially every decade. Protestantism was successful in several European nations, becoming predominant in the Scandinavian countries and in Northern Germany. In the following decades, various theological currents allowed the birth of various denominations, such as: Presbyterianism (which in turn became the official religion of Scotland, as the State Church de Kirk), Calvinism, Anabaptism in Switzerland and The Netherlands, Methodism in England, among others.

Motivated by poverty and in search of a better future, hundreds of thousands of northwestern Europeans[13][14] saw their destiny in the United States of America and made it their new home, where they practiced the Protestant faith from different perspectives. The nation did not have a single national language officially, which allowed each church to celebrate its religious services in the languages of their countries of origin. That's why the existence of free evangelical (state) churches, regardless of denomination, with Swedish and Norwegian-Danish backgrounds,[15] in addition to the German, Dutch and also English-speaking ones. All this was seen in the revivals known as: First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, Third Great Awakening and Fourth Great Awakening; being the Third Great Awakening the seedbed for the expansion of Protestantism towards Latin America and the Caribbean countries, and in the other continents.

In Venezuela, the increase in numbers began at the end of the 19th century after a series of religious openings.[16] Prior to 1830, English-speaking Quakers were present in the capital city. So that, Protestantism has gradually become the second largest Christian community in the country after Catholicism. In this sense, according to the Evangelical Council of Venezuela,[17] 20% of the population of Venezuela is evangelical Protestant.[18] This is the result of several missionary efforts done across the country with foreign and national believers. One of the first Protestant churches built in Caracas was the Lutheran Church serving especially to the German speaking community living in Caracas. Then, the first denomination established to new believers in the nation was the Presbyterianism. "El Redentor" Presbyterian Evangelical Church is named as the oldest congregation of Caracas dating back to 1898, which merged from an earlier Methodist effort since 1878. The evangelicals have had a big motivation for establishing schooling with Christian belief emphasis, just like the Christiansen Academy, in Rubio, Venezuela; as well as Colegio Americano de Caracas (Presbyterian).

The spread of evangelical proselytizing was organized into different regions by diverse pioneer works:

Region Early pioneer missions and denominations
Western region: Zulian region, Andean region and South-Western region Scandinavian Alliance Mission of the Evangelical Free Church of America
Central-Western region German-American Evangelical Pentecostal Holiness movement[19] which mostly merged into Assemblies of God, and Baptist Church mainly associated to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Central region The Swedish Evangelical Free Church of U.S.A.
Capital Region Presbyterian Church of U.S.A (Presbyterian), and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (Presbyterian)
Guayana and Amazona region Baptist Mid-Missions
Eastern region: Anzoategui, Sucre, Monagas, and Margarita Island Orinoco River Mission which later merged into The Evangelical Alliance Mission[20]
Los Llanos region In Guarico: The Swedish Evangelical Free Church of U.S.A. In Apure: Baptists which merged into Native Church

The Christian-Evangelical Churches of Venezuela, today, are mainly segmented into six major branches:[21]

Protestant or Evangelical branch %
Assemblies of God

and other Pentecostals groups

60 %
Baptist Churches:

Independent Baptists, Bible Baptists, and Reformed Baptists

16 %
Plymouth Brethren Church 9 %
Seventh-day Adventist Church 4 %
Evangelical Free Church 2 %
United Pentecostal Church 1 %

Other Evangelical Christian Denominations across the country

Eastern Orthodoxy in Venezuela

San Constantino y Elena Romanian Orthodox Church in El Hatillo, Caracas.
San Nicolás de Bari Russian Orthodox Church en Los Dos Caminos, Caracas.

The Orthodox Church in Venezuela has existed in Venezuela with the purpose of satisfying the spiritual needs of this religious groups, mainly made up of Russian, Yugoslav (Serbian, Croat and Bosnian) immigrants who arrived in the country since the end of World War II. It does not obey a planned system of religious proselytism, since church services were held in the immigrants' languages. Added to that group are the Greeks, Romanians,[22] and Ukrainians,[23] who with the passing of the decades their descendants have maintained that faith in the country.[24]

See also

References

  1. ^ Statistica.com website
  2. ^ a b Aguire, Jesus Maria (June 2012). "Informe Sociográfico sobre la religión en Venezuela" (PDF) (in Spanish). El Centro Gumilla. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 1, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Khalifa, Mustafa (2013), "The impossible partition of Syria", Arab Reform Initiative: 6–7, archived from the original on 2016-10-09, retrieved 2018-08-02
  4. ^ Sesin, Carmen (July 18, 2017). "As crisis deepens, more Venezuelans are emigrating to Lebanon". NBC News. Archived from the original on April 9, 2022. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Bavly, Ofer (April 6, 2021). "Sending relief--and a message of inclusion and love—to our Druze sisters and brothers". Jewish Chicago: The JUF Magazine. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  6. ^ N., Guillermo Estrugo. "Facts and Statistics: Venezuela". Mormon Newsroom. Retrieved 11 Apr 2022.
  7. ^ "2020 Country and Territory Reports". Jehovah's Witnesses. 2020. Archived from the original on April 9, 2022. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  8. ^ "Santeria surges in Venezuela - World news - Venezuela | NBC News". NBC News. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  9. ^ "Hasta 40 mil bolívares cuesta hacerse "El Santo"". Ultimasnoticias.com.ve. 2012-08-28. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  10. ^ a b c d US State Department, 2022 report on Venezuela
  11. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2017 § Venezuela, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
  12. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08
  13. ^ "Resumen del nacimiento de las iglesias libres en estados unidos y latinoamerica - Resúmenes - Abdy Benjamin Pereira Cazorla".
  14. ^ "La inmigración en Estados Unidos, una historia de éxito". 19 July 2020.
  15. ^ https://adielp.com/about/[bare URL]
  16. ^ "La Reforma Protestante y los Evangélicos en Venezuela". 30 October 2021.
  17. ^ Heartland Prairie[dead link]
  18. ^ Venezuela
  19. ^ Bletscher, Robert D. (May 1950), The Extent and Influences of the Holiness Revival in America, 1860-1900 (en línea), One denomination, the Evangelical Association...was similar in doctrine to the Methodist Church but, because of difficulties involving the preaching of the gospel in the German language, Jacob Albright and his co-laborers thought it best to establish their own denomination. During the nineteenth century, the Evangelical Association was probably one of the outstanding holiness churches in America.
  20. ^ Regions[dead link]
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). www.gumilla.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Iglesia de San Constantino y Santa Elena – Iglesia Rumana Ortodoxa | el Hatillo Virtual 360°".
  23. ^ Calendar 2015 Orthodox Daily Planner
  24. ^ "Venezuela – Iglesia Ortodoxa Antioquena".