Mozambique - Religions

The People's Republic of Mozambique is a secular state. The government guarantees every citizen full freedom of conscience and the right to practice a religion or not. Though church schools and hospitals were nationalized after independence, reports indicate that many of these institutions have been returned to their respective religious organizations. No religious holidays are officially observed, though individuals are generally allowed days off for their own religious observances.

Reports from the National Institute of Statistics state that half of the population does not claim adherence to any religion or creed. However, local scholars claim that most of the population follows traditional indigenous customs and beliefs either exclusively or in conjunction with other religious traditions. Veneration of ancestors plays an important role in traditional customs as do "curandeiros," the traditional healers or spiritualists who are consulted for healing, luck, and solutions to problems.

Of the 8 million or so who claim religious affiliation, about 24% are Roman Catholic, 22% are Protestant, and 20% are Muslim (though some Muslim leaders claim a much larger percentage of adherents). The strongest Muslim communities are located in the northern provinces and along the coastal strip. Central provinces are predominantly Catholic and the southern regions have the most Protestants. There are also small groups of Jews, Hindus, and Baha'is across the country.

There are about 540 distinct denominations registered with the Department of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Justice. Registration is required by law and an organization must have at least 500 members in good standing to be registered. However, unregistered groups have been allowed to worship without restrictions. The largest African independent church is the Zion Christian Church. Other Christian denominations include Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Congregational, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Nazarene, Jehovah's Witnesses and other pentecostal, evangelical, and apostolic organizations. The evangelical Christians are reported as the fastest growing religious groups in the country. Among Muslims, only Sunni and Ismaili communities are registered.

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