Religions in Mexico

Mexico is an officially secular country where the Church and the State conduct themselves independently. This separation was decreed in the 1917 Constitution but the Catholics attempted to fight this law by encouraging farmers to go up in arms against the government, which caused the Cristero War during the 1920’s. The conflict concluded by mutual consent and a new legislation granted the Church a legal presence. However, Mexican law forbids ministers of cult from holding public office.

The legal character of churches also limits their right to own real estate and operate communications media. In 1992, Mexico abolished many of the restrictions imposed on the Catholic clergy and other religions. Religious groups have been granted legal status and limited property rights.

Anthropologists interpret Mexico’s main religious practice as a phenomenon called Popular Religion, consisting of magical-religious rituals in a syncretism of Shamanic and Catholic traditions. Elements from other beliefs have adhered to the Catholic religion, mainly of Prehispanic, African and Asian origin. The State doesn’t provide any funding to churches and they are not allowed to participate in public education. However, Christmas and Easter and national and mandatory holidays at public and private schools.

According to the last available census, in the year 2000 the number of believers of Mexico’s main religions is constituted as follows:

Catholic 74,612,373
Protestant and Evangelist 4,408,159
Jehovah Witnesses 1,057,736
Adventist 488,945
Mormon 205,229
Judaism 45,260
Islamic 1,780

This makes Mexico the second country with the most Catholics in the world, after Brazil. An important percentage not appearing in this list is those Mexicans who state to not practice any religion at all, adding to more than two million persons, equal to 3% of all those polled.

Between 1992 and 2003, records show 58,460 persons entered the country registered as ministers. This term includes anyone granted this title by a religious organization.

There are two small Muslim communities, one in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, and another of approximately 500 persons in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Approximately 88% of the people in this survey identified themselves as Catholics. There are nearly 11,000 Catholic churches and 14,000 members of that clergy. Chiapas is the State with most Protestants, 21.9% of its citizens said they belong to this creed.

Currently, there are 6,700 religious associations registered by the Federal Government. Most of these associations are self-proclaimed Protestants and Christians and many foreign missionary groups are operating in the country.

Artículo Producido por el Equipo Editorial Explorando México.
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