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The most common religion of Zimbabwe is Christianity, with 87% of Zimbabweans being members of one Christian denomination or another, primarily Protestant. Denominations active in Zimbabwe include the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists. In recent years, several indigenous Christian denominations, as well as Charismatic Evangelical and Pentecostal churches have been organized.

Other religions include traditional African religions, practiced by about 4% of the population, as well as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, having only a minor presence. The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for freedom of religion, and this is generally true in practice.

Christianity was introduced to Zimbabwe by Portuguese Catholic missionaries, who made contact with the Shona people in the 1500s. However, a Jesuit missionary was murdered in 1561 and, although about a dozen Catholic churches were planted, there was no trace of Christianity by the mid-1600s.

In the late 1700s missionaries from the London Missionary Society came into the region. In charge of the LMS efforts, Robert Moffat befriended the king of the Ndebele tribe, and his son-in-law, David Livingstone, took part in several expeditions to Zimbabwe. Catholic missionaries reentered the region in the 1890s.

Although several Christian denominations are at work and active in Zimbabwe, there has been an increase in new African denominations, who derive their teachings from the Bible but attach great importance on prophecy, power, and fasting in the wilderness. Some of these new denominations claim to be Christian, but practice polygamy and have incorporated non-scriptural beliefs and practices.

Only about 4% of people in Zimbabwe declare traditional African religions, but many of those who claim Christianity incorporate practices that blend Christianity with various indigenous African rituals, songs, dance, and non-Christian iconography, and may also believe in animism and ancestor worship.

God is referred to as Mwari in Shona and as uMlimu in Ndebele, and people communicate with Him through their deceased ancestors. Both the Shona and Ndebele religions include spirit mediums who can speak to the dead. In Shona, there are also evil spirits (Ngizo) who witches can converse with.

Another indigenous religion in Zimbabwe is the Mwali religion. Followers of Mwali make annual pilgrimages to the Matobo Hills, where a delegation appeals to Mwari for rain. There is also the Unhu religion and the religion of the San.

Islam is a minor religion in Zimbabwe, accounting for fewer than 1% of the population, claimed mostly by immigrants from India and Pakistan, with a very small number of native Zimbabweans. Nevertheless, most of the larger towns in Zimbabwe have a mosque.

Several Bahá'í settled in what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1955, forming an assembly in Harare. Within a decade, there were nine assemblies and other smaller groups of Bahá'í. Today, there are forty-three assemblies, and Bahá'í centers in Bulawayo, Chinamora, Harare, Mubaira, and Murewa. Nevertheless, Bahá'í is a minor religion in Zimbabwe.

Hinduism was introduced to the region by indentured servants who were brought by British administrators during the colonial era. Upon completion of their indenture, many elected to remain and work for a salary. Today, Hindus are a tiny minority, largely concentrated in Harare.

There are also those who practice atheism, which has become more common with the introduction of the Internet. In Zimbabwe, as in most countries, the largest number of atheists are young people.

 

 

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