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According to 2005 government statistics, Christian groups form about 96% of the population by census counts. The Christian population is divided among general population by census counts as the Roman Catholic Church, 55 percent; Kiribati Protestant Church, 36 percent; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), 2 percent; and the Seventh-day Adventists, 2 percent.[1] Several of the smaller Christian churches claim to have higher numbers of adherents, but there is no independent confirmation.[1] Persons with no religious affiliation account for less than one percent of the population.[1] Members of the Catholic Church are concentrated in the northern islands, while Protestants are the majority in the southern islands.[1]

Missionaries introduced Christianity into the area in the mid-19th century.[1] They are currently present and operate freely.[1]

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.[1] Societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice occur, but are relatively infrequent.[1]

Bahá'í Faith

The only substantial non-Christian population is of the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í Faith in Kiribati begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion to the Gilbert Islands which form part of modern Kiribati.[2] The first Bahá'ís pioneered to the island of Abaiang(aka Charlotte Island, of the Gilbert Islands), on March 4, 1954.[3] They encountered serious opposition from some Catholics on the islands and were eventually deported and the first convert banished to his home island.[4] However in one year there was a community of more than 200 Bahá'ís[5] and a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly.[6] Three years later the island where the first convert was sent to was found to now have 10 Bahá'ís. By 1963 there were 14 assemblies.[7] As the Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu and the Gilbert Islands and others formed Kiribati, the communities of Bahá'ís also reformed into separate institutions of National Spiritual Assemblies in 1981.[8] The Bahá'ís had established a number schools by 1963[7] and there are still such today - indeed the Ootan Marawa Bahá'í Vocational Institute being the only teacher training institution for pre-school teachers in Kiribati.[3] The census figures are consistently between 2 and 3% for the Bahá'ís while the Bahá'ís claim numbers above 17%.[4] All together the Bahá'ís now claim more than 10,000 local people have joined the religion over the last 50 years and there are 38 local spiritual assemblies.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Kiribati. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991). Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 40–42. ISBN 0877432333. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/TDP/tdp-7.html.iso8859-1#pg41.  
  3. ^ a b c Bahá'í International Community (2004-03-04), "Sailing in for a jubilee", Bahá'í World News Service, http://news.bahai.org/story/301  
  4. ^ a b Hassall, Graham (1996), "Bahá'í Faith in the Asia Pacific Issues and Prospects", Bahá'í Studies Review 6: 1–10, http://bahai-library.com/file.php5?file=hassall_bahai_asia-pacific_issues&language=  
  5. ^ Finau, Makisi; Teeruro Ieuti, Jione Langi (1992). Forman, Charles W.. ed. Island Churches: Challenge and Change. Pacific Theological College and Institute for Pacific Studies. pp. 101–2, 107. ISBN 9789820200777. http://books.google.com/books?id=3EBW5XfcONUC&pg=PA101&lpg=PA101&source=bl&ots=D9tb9N0-L6&sig=UjI_7yOfJ1F0uVaALcQBRmVn_CA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result.  
  6. ^ Graham, Hassall (1992), "Pacific Baha'i Communities 1950-1964", in Rubinstein, Donald H. (ed), Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference, University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam, pp. 73–95, http://bahai-library.com/file.php5?file=hassall_bahai_pacific&language=All  
  7. ^ a b Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. "The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963". pp. 26, 28. http://bahai-library.com/?file=handscause_statistics_1953-63&chapter=1#22.  
  8. ^ Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Academics Resource Library. http://bahai-library.org/asia-pacific/Notes%20on%20Research/national_spiritual_assemblies.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-02.  
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