Religion in BoliviaReligion in Bolivia

Religion in Bolivia

A lonely word to summarize the religious situation in Bolivia is; syncretism.

The official religion, endorsed by the 2009’s Constitution, is Catholiscim. The great majority of the population claims to be catholic but in reality, the fervor degree varies considerably according to people and religions.

From that, Catholicism is, historically talking, a colonization tool and a way to control a lot of persons by the ruling class. As a consequence, to be catholic is seen as a favorable element of social prestige, hence the massive number of people claiming to be catholic (about 78% of the population).

But concretely, this Christianism is highly colored by local believes, practices and superstitions. Indeed, it is not rare to see priest blessing cars, like during the celebration of Copacabana’s Virgen and farmers go to the mass before to make an Andean ritual with coca leaves and animal sacrifices.

In the countryside, the Andean world view, where Humans do not dominate but are an integral element of Nature, and Andean believes, magical, stay deeply rooted. They venerate the Mother-Earth (Pachamama), the Sun (Inti) and the Moon (Killa).

The spirit of the mountains, the Apus, protect the villages and encourage the soil fertility. Bolivian people are often used to fall back on healers, curanderos, rather than doctors coming from the western medicine. Superstitions and other magical explanations are still very present to explain mysterious and inexplicable situations.

Simultaneously to these traditional believes, it is to notice the emergence of new protestant movements such as Evangelists or Adventists, predicting the end of the world and other disasters to come. But these movements remain to cities and do not reach the countryside.

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