Religion in Zambia
Christianity is the official religion in Zambia according to the 1996 constitution, and the vast majority of Zambians are Christians of various denominations, but many other religious traditions are present. Traditional religious thought blends easily with Christian beliefs in many of the country's syncretic churches. Other religions include the Bahá'í Faith, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism. Ismaili Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities exist owing to the Indian and Pakistani diasporic community.
In 2010, according to World Christian Trends, 85.5% of the population identified as Christian, 11.2% identified with indigenous religions, 1.8% identified as Bahá'í, 1.1% identified as Muslim, 0.2% identified as agnostic, 0.1% identified as Hindu, and all other groups accounted for less than 0.1%. The 2010 Zambian census found that 75.3% of Zambians were Protestant, 20.2% were Catholic, 0.5% were Muslim, 2.0% followed other religions, and 1.8% had no religion.
Zambia is officially a Christian nation according to the 1996 constitution, but a wide variety of religious traditions exist. Traditional religious thought blends easily with Christian beliefs in many of the country's syncretic churches. Christian denominations include: Presbyterianism, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, New Apostolic Church, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Branhamism, and a variety of Evangelical denominations. These grew, adjusted and prospered from the original missionary settlements (Portuguese and Catholicism in the east from Mozambique) and Anglicanism (English and Scottish influences) from the south. Except for some technical positions (e.g. physicians), western missionary roles have been assumed by native believers. After Frederick Chiluba (a Pentecostal Christian) became President in 1991, Pentecostal congregations expanded considerably around the country.
Zambian-born archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was a retired bishop until he left to marry Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist, at a ceremony officiated by controversial Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon in New York (May, 2001). He was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church in September, 2006 for conducting a consecration of 4 married men as bishops.
The Bahá'í population of Zambia has been estimated at 162,443, or 1.70% of the population. Based on that data, Adherents.com ranks this as the sixteenth-highest national proportion of Bahá'ís in the world. It also ranks Zambia's as the tenth-largest national Bahá'í community in the world in absolute terms, and the fourth-largest in Africa.
The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation, an organization founded in 1995 and run by the Zambian Bahá'í community, is particularly active in areas such as literacy and primary health care. The Maseltha Institute, its parent organization, was founded earlier in 1983.
Approximately 1% of Zambians are Muslim, mostly living in urban areas. The vast majority of Muslims in Zambia are Sunni. An Ismaili Shia community is also present. About 500 people in Zambia belong to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.
There is also a small Jewish community, composed mostly of Ashkenazis. Notable Jewish Zambians have included Simon Zukas, retired Minister, MP and a member of Forum for Democracy and Development and earlier on the MMD and United National Independence Party. Additionally, the economist Stanley Fischer, currently the governor of the Bank of Israel and formerly head of the IMF was born and partially raised in Zambia's Jewish community.
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