Religion in Tonga


Religion in Tonga

According to the last official census in 1996, 41% of the population of Tonga belonged to the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, 16% to the Roman Catholic Church, 14% to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), 12% to the Free Church of Tonga, 17% to other groups. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90156.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Tonga] . 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."] However, both Roman Catholics and Mormons state that the number of their adherents is higher than reported, and a 2006 survey conducted by the Free Wesleyan Church revealed its membership comprised only 35 percent of the population. The Tokaikolo Church (a local offshoot of the Methodist Church), Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Anglicans are also present. Other than Christian denominations the next largest religion is of the Baha'i Faith. [cite encyclopedia
title = Tonga Facts and Figures
encyclopedia = Encarta
volume = Online
pages =
publisher = Microsoft
year = 2008
id =
url = http://encarta.msn.com/fact_631504878/tonga_facts_and_figures.html
accessdate = 2008-09-15
] Islam, and Hinduism have small numbers of adherents.

The Bahá'í Faith in Tonga started after being set as a goal to introduce the religion in 1953,Citation
first = Graham
last = Hassall
editor-last = H. Rubinstein
editor-first = Donald
contribution = Pacific Baha'i Communities 1950-1964
contribution-url = http://bahai-library.com/file.php5?file=hassall_bahai_pacific&language=All
title = Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference
year = 1992
pages = pp.73-95
place =
publisher = University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam
url =
doi =
id =
] and Bahá'ís arrived in 1954.Citation
last = Tuitahi
first = Sione
last2 = Bolouri
first2 = Sohrab
title = Tongan Baha'is parade to the palace
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
date = 2004-01-28
url = http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/286
] With conversions and pioneers the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.Citation
last = Hassall
first = Graham
author-link =
title = Baha'i Faith in the Asia Pacific Issues and Prospects
periodical = Bahá'í Studies Review
volume=6
pages = pp. 1-10
year = 1996
url = http://bahai-library.com/file.php5?file=hassall_bahai_asia-pacific_issues&language=
] Less than forty years later, in 1996, the Bahá'ís of Tonga established their paramount Bahá'í school in the form of the Ocean of Light International School. [Citation
last = Bahá'í International Community
first =
author-link = Bahá'í International Community
title = Ocean of Light School celebrates 10th anniversary
newspaper = Bahá'í World News Service
date = 2006-07-17
url = http://news.bahai.org/story/461
] Around 2004 there were 29 local spiritual assemblies and about 5% of the national population were members of the Bahá'í Faith though the Tonga Broadcasting Commission maintained a policy that does not allow discussions by members of the Bahá'í Faith of its founder, Bahá'u'lláh on its radio broadcasts.cite web | url = http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71356.htm | title = International Religious Freedom Report - Tonga | year = 2006 | date = 2006-09-15 | accessdate = 2008-09-15 | author = Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor | publisher = United States State Department]

Foreign missionaries are active in the country and operate freely.

The Constitution of Tonga provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. The US government found that there were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice in 2007.

References


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