... 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 churchs bells only on special events, like
baptism, marriage, and maybe the Easter morning our during mourning masses.
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 theyll become bourgeois in heaven, a rising class wants its
comforts on earth. Costa Ricas 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 saints 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 .
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.