Religion in East Timor


Religion in East Timor

The overwhelming majority of the population of East Timor is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is the dominant religious institution. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90135.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Timor Leste] . 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."] There are also small Protestant and Muslim communities.

According to a 2005 World Bank report, 98 percent of the population is Catholic, 1 percent Protestant, and less than 1 percent Muslim. Most citizens also retain some vestiges of animistic beliefs and practices, which they have come to regard as more cultural than religious.

The number of Protestants and Muslims declined significantly after September 1999 because these groups were disproportionately represented among supporters of integration with Indonesia and among the Indonesian civil servants assigned to work in the province from other parts of Indonesia, many of whom left the country in 1999. The Indonesian military forces formerly stationed in the country included a significant number of Protestants, who played a major role in establishing Protestant churches in the territory. Fewer than half of those congregations existed after September 1999, and many Protestants were among those who remained in West Timor. The Assemblies of God is the largest and most active of the Protestant denominations.

The country had a significant Muslim population during the Indonesian occupation, composed mostly of ethnic Malay immigrants from Indonesian islands. There were also a few ethnic Timorese converts to Islam, as well as a small number descended from Arab Muslims living in the country while it was under Portuguese authority. The latter group was well integrated into society, but ethnic Malay Muslims at times were not. Only a small number of ethnic Malay Muslims remained.

Domestic and foreign missionary groups operated freely.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. Societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice occur, but they are relatively infrequent.

ee also

*Freedom of religion in East Timor
*Islam in East Timor
*Roman Catholicism in East Timor

References


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