Religion in Nicaragua, Churces, Tradition, Culture
Religious freedom as well as tolerance is promoted by the Nicaraguan government and forms part of the constitution. The Government strives to protect the right of freedom of religion in Nicaragua and will not tolerate those who discriminate against others on the basis of their ideology or beliefs.
Over 90% of Nicaragua’s population are members of Christian denominations. Approximately 73% of Nicaraguans follow the Roman Catholic religion with about 15% attending evangelical churches. Around 2% are part of the Moravian Church and some 0.1 percent are joined to the Episcopal Church. A further 2% belong to a variety of religious groups including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Amish or Mennonite communities. Along the Atlantic Coast there appears to be a larger following of the Protestant churches. A very small percentage of Nicaraguans practice other forms of religion. The Jewish community is limited to just a few and the small Muslim groups are mostly made up of alien residents as well as immigrants who are now naturalized Nicaraguans. The Church of Scientology and Bahai’i Faith followers are in the minority.
Moravians and Episcopalians are mostly centered along the Atlantic Coast with Catholicism and evangelical denominations being concentrated in the central and Pacific areas of Nicaragua. Religion is often associated with particular ethnic groups. Great expansion has been noted amongst the evangelical churches, particularly in rural areas. These church groups even run two private universities in Nicaragua.
Catholicism arrived in the country along with the Spanish conquerors during the 16th century. Whilst the Roman Catholic Church is not the official religion of Nicaragua, it does have a close association with the country’s government. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church exerts great political influence in Nicaragua. Bishops are often called upon to attend state occasions and often offer their opinion on various issues facing the country. Many educational institutions are run by Roman Catholic bodies. The popularity of the religion in Nicaragua is clearly seen in yearly festivals held throughout Nicaragua in honor of the patron saints as well as several other religious celebrations.
Nicaraguans are generally religiously inclined people, with many attending services and taking part in other observances. The great influence of religion in the lives of Nicaraguans is often evident in their speech as they utter phrases like “if it is God’s will”.
Nicaragua’s eclectic mix of religions simply adds to the wonder of this fascinating country. During your travels through Nicaragua you will without a doubt come across a variety of religious expressions and traditions.