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Dominican Republic Religion

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The "official" religion in the Dominican Republic is Roman Catholic however the Constitution provides for freedom of worship and the Government respects the right to practice your religion of choice.  There are two Archdiocese on the island, one in Santo Domingo and one in Santiago.  There are nine diocese in the country, in Barahona, Bani, Higuey, La Vega, Mao-Montecristi, Puerto Plata, San Francisco de Macoris, San Juan de la Maguana, and San Pedro de Macoris.

In 1954 The Roman Catholic Church signed a concordat with the Dominican government and enjoys many privileges that do not apply to other religious sects, including a complete waiver of customs duties on imports.   Other religious groups have to request for customs duties exemptions when importing goods.  The Church also influences the education system and in the year 2000 a law was passed that requires all public schools to include Bible readings in their activities. This law is not strictly enforced however and the private schools are not subject to it.

Over 80% of the population confess to be Catholics however there are many Evangelical groups and Protestant denominations now active in the country.   These include the Assembly of God, Church of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Baptist, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Pentecostal.  The Jehovah's Witnesses have a large headquarters here, as do the Mormons with a temple in the capital city of Santo Domingo including an administrative educational facility.  Judaism and Islam are two other up and coming religions that are very slowly expanding in the Dominican Republic, and there is a very small contingent of Buddhism and Hinduism.  According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2006, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, there is a very small Jewish community on the island, mostly in the city of Santo Domingo, which has a synagogue.  Sosua on the north coast also has a small synagogue which was descended from the European Jewish refugees that fled here at the start of the Second World War. 

Voodoo and Santeria are also practiced here, mostly by Haitian and Cuban immigrants, but the majority of their ceremonies are hidden from the main population due to many Dominican's beliefs that these are paganistic.  It is therefore difficult to determine how many people in the country practice these rituals which incorporate magic, possession, withcraft, and African rhythms and dance.
Read 29240 times Last modified on Friday, 01 April 2011 14:43
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