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Catalonia - Religion

Catalonia FlagSpain is a non-denominational country, and everybody who lives in Catalonia had the right to practice their own religion. The Spanish Constitution guarantees individual freedom in terms of ideology, religion and worship with the only limitation to their manifestation being that which is necessary to maintain public order. Catalonia respects the countrys diversity of religious beliefs and provides for their peaceful coexistence. No-one can be forced to reveal or give information about their ideology, religion or beliefs. Discrimination on religious grounds is illegal.

In recent decades, Catalonia had experienced transformations that have led to changes in the country's religious landscape. After National Catholicism under Franco and the processes of secularisation during the democratic transition, the migratory waves that began in the 90s created a new setting wherein religious minorities have become increasingly important.

There is no possible way to know how many Orthodox are in Catalonia, just as it is impossible to know how many Catholics there are. Everything is rough estimates, and not very strict. All those who have been baptized can not be considered Catholics, nor can they count only those who go to Mass on Sundays. Except in the case of some Protestant Churches, or Jehovah's Witnesses, who have precise and reliable censuses of their members, it was unthinkable to calculate the number of people.

The research group ISOR (Investigacions en Sociologia de la Religi) of the Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona (UAB) had designed a website in which to offer information on the Religious Map of Catalonia, on the religious minorities existing in the country. The map includes research data funded by the Directorate General of Religious Affairs of the Government of Catalonia and commissioned to the researchers of the ISOR during thirteen years (2001-2014), with the aim of making this information available on the website. The map registered 8,061 places of worship around the country, corresponding to 13 religions.

the Catholic Church is still largely majority in Catalonia, with more than 83% of the centers of worship. During the Franco dictatorship years, the bond between the Catholic Church and the State was very strong. Formally, a relationship was established in which political power and religious power were linked: the State was Catholic and the Church had the monopoly in transmitting the beliefs and values of society.

But religion did not end with the Catholic Church. And less in Catalonia. During the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, Catalan Protestant churches became centers of reference to the State, and there were educational centers, a hospital and various biblical associations. In 1918, the Jews established the first synagogue and, later, a confessional school. And later on, Bah' groups, Jehovah's Witnesses and later other Millennium churches, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also settled in the country. Buddhists, Hindus, Orthodox and Muslims began to open their centers of worship during the second half of the twentieth century. Catalonia became a plural. It is from the Nineties, with the increase in migratory flows.

Most non-Catholic places of worship in Catalonia belong to the evangelical churches (725). It is the religious tradition that had had a most prominent growth in the last two decades, and it is the confession that had created more places of worship during all these years. At present, Protestantism encompasses a wide range of denominations, churches and organizations that make up a diverse, heterogeneous and fragmented landscape.

Islam is the third most represented denomination in the country, with a total of 256 oratories. It is, therefore, far from the evangelical churches. The first Islamic oratory opens in 1974, but it is not until the eighties and nineties that the creation of Islamic oratories is definitively consolidated in Catalonia and takes a special emphasis on the rest of the religions in the country.

The Christian Jehovah's Witnesses , with 118 rooms of the kingdom, stand in the fourth position among the religious confessions with the greatest presence in Catalonia. The first hall of the kingdom that was founded in Catalonia was in 1973, in Barcelona. Since then, the expansion of Jehovah's Witnesses to Christianity was steadfast and steady until the end of the 1990s, when the pace of growth slowed down.

Two out of three Catalan young people believe in one of the 13 religions in Catalonia, says the study Adolescents, joves, religions i tecnologia. Done by Josep Llus Mic and Miriam Dez, from the Observatori Blanquerna de Comunicaci, Religi i Cultura, the study was based on surveys of 2,000 people between 12 and 18, outside of Barcelona.

The substantial increase in centers of worship is mainly due to the growth of people from Latin America, the African continent, Asia and Eastern Europe. Thus, Islamic mosques, Sikh Gurdwares or Orthodox churches are composed almost exclusively of people with a migrant background. Evangelic churches or Hindu centers, on the other hand, owe their growth simultaneously to international migrations and to the presence of converts in their communities. Finally, in certain confessions, as in the case of Buddhism, the most significant growth had been due to the increase in conversions of indigenous people.







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