Armenia - Religions

In September 1991, Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, of which it had been a member since 1920. Armenia was a Christian country since the 4th century AD and witnessed a resurgence of the Armenian Apostolic Church after independence. In 1991 the Law on Freedom of Conscience established the separation of church and state but granted the Armenian Apostolic Church status as the national church. A presidential decree issued in 1993 supplemented the law and strengthened the position of the Armenian Apostolic Church by empowering the Council on Religious Affairs (CRA) to investigate the activities of registered religious organizations and to ban missionaries who engage in activities contrary to their status. In 1997 amendments tightened registration requirements by raising the minimum number of adult members to qualify for registration from 50 to 200. The laws also indicate that a petitioning organization must adhere to a doctrine that is based on "historically recognized Holy Scriptures." In 2002 the president abolished the CRA and announced that a new office, attached to the Presidency, would be established to handle matters of religious.

The Armenian Apostolic Church is not subject to some of the restrictions imposed on other faiths. In particular, the 1991 law outlaws proselytizing except by the Armenian Apostolic Church and requires all other religious denominations and organizations to register with the government. In 2002, 90% of the population were nominally Armenian Apostolic.

There are small communities of Roman Catholics, Mekhitarists (Armenian Uniate), Pentecostals, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Evangelicals, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Baha' is, and Hare Krishnas. There is also a small Kurdish community which practices Yezidi, a faith combining elements of Zoroastrianism, Islam, and animism.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: