Religion in Ecuador

Ecuador

Most people in Ecuador are Roman Catholic, a religion that was introduced to most of Latin America during the Spanish conquest. Freedom of religious worship is guaranteed by Ecuador’s constitution, and several other religions are practiced by smaller numbers of people in Ecuador.

Catholicism became influential in Ecuador after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. This is in part due to the creation of Catholic schools, which helped educate the population and also impart religious instruction. The Catholic Church also became quite wealthy and powerful during its formative years in Ecuador. During the 1960s, Catholic priests were affected by liberation theology that was sweeping through much of Latin America. The church began to promote social change by engaging in literacy campaigns and encouraging the redistribution of land to indigenous groups.

These days, over 90 percent of the Ecuadorian population considers themselves Roman Catholic. The church’s influence lives in education and important life events, including baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Catholic churches are found in nearly every town square, and Catholic shrines are often seen on the tops of mountains. Additionally, you'll find that many of the country's holidays and festivals, unsurprisingly, have religious ties.

Protestantism has a following, particularly in more remote parts of the country, where missionaries work to improve the physical and spiritual lives of the indigenous groups. Even so, indigenous religion is still strong in Ecuadorian society. Many indigenous tribes, like the Sierra Indians, mixed Catholic rites with their own beliefs, creating an interesting fusion of faiths.

Mormonism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Baha’i also have small followings in Ecuador.