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A synagogue in Sabile

Religion in Latvia has had minimal conflict over the centuries. Christianity was brought to Latvia relatively late, in the 13th century. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia has 450,000 members.[1] The Latvian Orthodox Church is semi-autonomous and has 350,000 members.[1] Roman Catholicism in Latvia has 430,000 members.[1] Historically, the west and central parts of the country have been predominantly Protestant, while the east – particularly the Latgale region – has been predominantly Catholic.[2] Orthodoxy predominates among the Latvian Russian population.

As of 2009, the population of Jews in Latvia was 667;[1] there were several hundred Hindus in Latvia; and there were several hundred to a few thousand Muslims in Latvia. A modern neopagan movement is Dievturība.

As of February 2003, the Justice Ministry had registered 1098 congregations.[3] This total included: Lutheran (307), Roman Catholic (252), Orthodox (117), Baptist (90), Old Believer Orthodox (67), Seventh-day Adventist (47), Jehovah's Witnesses (12), Methodist (12), Jewish (13), Buddhist (5), Muslim (5), Hare Krishna (10), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) (3), and more than 100 other congregations. In 2003, the Government also registered the Christian Scientists as a recognized religious congregation.

In 2002, churches in Latvia provided the following estimates of church membership to the Justice Ministry[3]: Lutherans (400,000), Roman Catholics (500,000), Orthodox (300,000), Baptists (6,000), Old Believer Orthodox (70,000), Seventh-day Adventists (4,000), Jehovah's Witnesses (2,000), Methodists (500), Jews (6,000), Buddhists (100), Muslims (300), Hare Krishnas (500), and Mormons (2,000).

According to the CIA World Factbook, As of 2006, the religion breakdown of Latvia was as follows: Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7%.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Reliģiju Enciklopēdija, Statistika (in Latvian). Accessed 2009-07-23.
  2. ^ Ščerbinskis, Valters (1999). "Eastern Minorities". The Latvian Institute. http://www.li.lv/index.php?Itemid=471&id=102&option=com_content&task=view.  
  3. ^ a b "International Religious Freedom Report 2003: Latvia". About.com. 2003. http://atheism.about.com/library/irf/irf03/blirf_latvia.htm.  

Further reading

  • Stradiņš J (1996). "Martin Luther and the Impact of the Reformation on the History of Latvia. - Dialogue between Christianity and Secularism in Latvia". Annals of European Academy of Sciences and Arts 15 (VI): 75.  
  • Klīve V (1993). "The Latvian Struggle for Survival: A Religious Perspective". Humanities and Social Sciences (Latvia) (1): 51-52.  
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