Firstly I must confess that I am in no way religious myself, I would class myself as an atheist, why? well I used to be Church of England (Protestant), but I went through a phase of losing close members of my family, and really didn\’t see the point in believing in something, or someone who took away those who only did good with their lives, whilst leaving life\’s scum to continue their deeds, that view was backed up by the number of incidents I dealt with during my time as a Police Officer. That may seem extreme to some, in which case I apologise, but I make no apology for how I feel.
So I look on Religion in Colombia from the outside looking in, rather than being part of it. Colombia is considered a Catholic Country, as is all of South America, but is it really committed to the Catholic faith?
If you look at reports on Catholicism in Colombia, you will see that since it was removed as the State Religion in 1991, the numbers are gradually slipping in favour of other faiths. It is believed that now about 70% of the population is Catholic, and only 25% of those are practising Catholics, which is a play on numbers, lets put that in perspective, that equates to only 17.5% of the population being practising Catholics, hardly an advertisment for the Church. Whilst Protestantism has reached 13% of the populace, and is growing faster than the population.
So why is Catholicism waning? there are many reasons, not least because of the abuse within the Church, but also because the Catholic Church refuses to believe that people would have the audacity to turn their backs on the Vatican, they don\’t reform, they don\’t want to change any of their ways to fit in with the modern life, they continue to be dictatorial.
An example of this close to home, the people in my local area are staunch Catholic outwardly, they raised the cash, and built the local school, the Catholic church alongside, with a house for the Catholic Minister, fine…recently the Catholic Church, has been putting pressure on the locals to donate the buildings and land to the Church, to add to their property portfolio, not very christian like if you ask me, I haven\’t heard if a decision has been taken, but I sincerely hope that the Locals resist.
Likewise you will see people walking to their local Churches, and then during the week, they are propping up Bars, being unfaithful to their partners,etc. This doesn\’t only apply to Catholics, but it does make a mockery of the description, \’a Religious Country\’!
Protestantism in Colombia is a growing business, and I say that on purpose, anyone can start up a Church, many start up in an old warehouse, or even part of a house, people start coming to the services, and the emphasis is put on donating to the Church, unfortunately people here believe that by doing this, it brings them closer to \’God\’, and we are not just talking about passing around the collection plate like in the UK, we are talking serious money, and that can be seen in the standard of life these \’Pastors\’ adopt, swish cars, nice houses etc. These people are good actors, and receive a salary commiserate with their performance, in fact many then move on to more affluent Countries, because their income will be even greater.
Is \’Religion\’ therefore as predominant in Colombia as it was in the past? the answer to that has to be no, like in many countries, people are seeing it for what it is, a self serving institution, with little interest in the benefits of it\’s congregation, likewise the \’congregation\’ are seeing that their money is better spent on themselves.