Lithuania - Religions

The country witnessed extensive suppression of religious activities during the Soviet period. Although official statistics are not available, Lithuania is primarily Roman Catholic. A 2001 census indicated that about 79% of the population is nominally Roman Catholic. The next largest denomination, the Orthodox Church, has only about 141,000 members, about 0.04% of the population. The Old Believers (an Orthodox sect) have about 27,000 members. About 19,500 people are Lutherans, 7,000 are Evangelical Reformed, 4,000 are Jewish, 2,700 are Sunni Muslim, and about 300 are Greek Catholic. About 9.4% of the population claim no specific religious affiliation.

Lithuania is one of a few countries to have an active community of Karaites. The faith is a branch of Judaism, with tenets based exclusively on a literal interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. The Karaites have two centers of worship in the country, in Vilnius and Trakia, with a total of about 250 members. The Karaites are considered an ethnic community as well. They speak a Turkic-based language and use the Hebrew alphabet.

In May 1999, after some initial controversy, the Minister of Justice also registered the Hasidic Chabad Lubavich community as a traditional religious organization. Denominations considered "non-traditional" by the government include Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Pentecostals, as well as about 184 other religious organizations.

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