The religion in Nicaragua has a very big meaning in the culture and politics of the country. Religious freedom and tolerance are constitutionally guaranteed. The most important institution is the Catholic Church that has had a prominent position since colonial times. Although state and church have been formally separated since the liberal reforms of the 19th century and religious freedom has prevailed under the constitution, Catholic Christianity has remained a part of national identity. The Church contributes to important state acts, and the bishops regularly issue highly regarded statements on national issues. Good schools and part of the university education are in the hands of Catholic orders, and so the Church has retained a great influence on the education of the middle and upper classes. All localities, from the smallest village to the capital, celebrate the festivals of their local saints with masses and large processions; they give religion a central role in their social life.
Still, the influence of the official church often overrated on the everyday life of Nicaraguans The institution emerged from the liberal reforms financially and personally weakened, and the great shortage of priests meant that its presence in the 20th century was essentially limited to the cities and the wealthy classes. The popular religion, in which Indian and African elements live on, developed largely outside the church. The great majority of the population is still Catholic today, but not ecclesiastical in the strict sense; many content themselves with baptism and funeral rites, but otherwise maintain a clear distance from the clergy. In addition, in the second half of the 20th century, the Catholic Church received stiff competition in the form of Protestant missions.
The official church is traditionally conservative, anti-liberal and anti-communist. Church life was in great motion in the 1960’s, as priests from Spain, the USA and other countries came to Nicaragua, one of countries in Central America according to payhelpcenter. They rebuilt the basic church work in the slums and in the countryside. They were able to tie in with popular religion in a new way. Since many of them developed to the left and became partisans of the theology of liberation, an enormous potential for conflict within the church grew, which can still be felt today. It is well known that prominent priests such as the brothers Fernando and Ernesto Cardenal were involved in the Sandinista revolutionary government of the 1980’s, but were therefore confronted with sharp criticism from the Vatican. The new grassroots movement shifted the political balance of power and ensured that the official church at least tried to play a mediating role in social and political conflicts. This had a positive effect in the peace process at the end of the 1980’s, which brought an end to the civil wars in Central America and which was not decided in vain in Esquipulas / Guatemala, the central pilgrimage of Central America. In Nicaragua, under the sign of “national reconciliation”, the church took part in the projects for the reintegration of refugees and “contra” fighters. This development is also evident today. The Catholic Church was instrumental in bringing about the “national dialogue” and acts as a mediator between the Ortega government and the protest movement. In Nicaragua, under the sign of “national reconciliation”, the church took part in the projects for the reintegration of refugees and “contra” fighters. This development is also evident today. The Catholic Church was instrumental in bringing about the “national dialogue” and acts as a mediator between the Ortega government and the protest movement. In Nicaragua, under the sign of “national reconciliation”, the church took part in the projects for the reintegration of refugees and “contra” fighters. This development is also evident today. The Catholic Church was instrumental in bringing about the “national dialogue” and acts as a mediator between the Ortega government and the protest movement.
The websites of the Archdiocese of Managua and the Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua provide insights into the life of the official church. An interesting study shows that the strengths and weaknesses of church work can be assessed very differently depending on the region.
Protestantism in Nicaragua has a long history in the form of the Moravian Brethren (Iglesia Morava / Moravian Church) on the Atlantic coast and the Baptists. In the 1960’s, the Protestant churches in Nicaragua (as in all of Latin America) experienced an enormous expansion to the middle and lower classes, in which the evangelical and Pentecostal churches had the largest share, as they worked in a mission- and conversion-oriented manner and had great support from the USA received. A recognized institution is the Baptist Hospital in Managua (founded 1928). The organization CEPAD testifies to the growing social engagement of the Protestants which was founded as an aid organization after the great earthquake in Managua in 1972; Today it is a recognized partner of development cooperation, including the development organizations of the Protestant Church in Germany.
Protestantism, which was once the confession of a small, foreign-oriented fringe group, has now become a serious, multifaceted force in society. According to the 2005 census, over 20% of the population belong to one of the churches and sects. The great growth phase from 1960 to 1990 seems to be over, but the Protestants are expanding their institutions, have founded their own radio stations, seminars and universities and are becoming politically active, and by no means only on the right-hand side of the political spectrum.
It should also be noted that in Nicaragua, too, the number of people who do not feel they belong to any religion is increasing. In 1995, 7.5% of all respondents said they were not religious; In 2005 their number had grown to 15.7% (data from Censo 2005).