... Religion in Costa Rica ...
by Infocostarica Staff

More than the 90% of the Costa Ricans are catholic , but almost no one gets riled about his or her religion and faith, as religious freedom is granted by the constitution and upheld by the tolerant nature of the Ticos. Holy Week (the week before Easter) is a national holiday, and its supposed to be a time of prayers and good behavior, but people in almost every place of Costa Rica take it as an excuse for vacations and secular binge. Here the passing of the parish priest inspires no reverential gestures. And almost all Costa Ricans respond to the sound of the church’s bells only on special events, like baptism, marriage, and maybe the Easter morning our during mourning masses.

Religion in Costa Rica - imagen 1

Costa Rica as a country has always been remarkably secular, the relationship between the state and the church has been always very weak. The population special dislike for dictators have made them intolerant of priests, together with the influence of secular liberal administrations that vanished orders and deeply affected the church's influence at the beginning of the 19th century. The church in the feudal Central American nations offered the peasants who where poor and ignorant a great consolation which was salvation and the kingdom of heaven.  But  in Costa Rica the church had trouble from the earliest colonial times to take control over people minds and moral. While poor peasants can be convinced they’ll become bourgeois in heaven, a rising class wants its comforts on earth. Costa Rica’s modernity and middle-class achievements have made the traditional Church and all of its meanings superfluous for many people.

Still, every village, no matter how small it is,  has a church facing east, on the west side of the central plaza, and its own saint’s day, which is usually celebrated with secular fervor. Every home, taxi, office and bus has its token religious icons. The Catholic marriage ceremony is the only church marriage with state recognition, and so, Catholicism is the official state religion as mandated by the Constitution of 1949 .

Religion in Costa Rica - imagen 2

Protestantism has proven even less spellbinding. The Catholic clergy has fiercely defended its turf against Protestant missionaries, and the Protestant evangelism so prevalent in other parts of Central America has yet to make a dent in Costa Rica. Many kinds of sects also can be found in many places of Costa Rica but they never tend to be any kind of majority, although they are certainly on the rise and quite uproarious compared to the traditional religions.

A sudden increase in the number of religious sects might be marking a spiritual awakening of a large non-religious population who is disappointed by the traditional catholic church's pomposity and lack spiritual content.   Unfortunately, these new sects, whose adepts are despectively called a generic "Cristianos" by the rest of the population, are usually founded by greedy or lascivious preachers with something other than salvation in mind.  The catholic church has already started it's counter attack in trying to recover the souls of the people by sending nice looking priest to preach on television and radio in a manner quite unheard of from the Catholics before this troublesome times.

Older people tend to be more pious than younger ones, but it is undeniable that even without attending church a vast majority of the population considers itself catholic and have an inherited respect for the church.

It is also important to mention that other major religions have their representatives in Costa Rica, among them one can count Judaism, with a Synagogue in San Jose, Buddhism, Hinduism and the Islam.