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Namibia


International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
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The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 320,827 square miles, and its population was approximately two million. More than 90 percent of citizens identified themselves as Christian. The two largest denominations were the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches, while smaller numbers were affiliated with the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). There were also a number of Zionist Churches (a mixture of traditional African beliefs and Pentecostal Christianity), especially in urban areas. The Afrikaner ethnic group was the predominant patron of the Dutch Reformed Church of Namibia. The Himba, an ethnic group that constitutes less than 1 percent of the population, practiced a traditional indigenous religion oriented toward their natural environment in the desert northwest. The San people, who constitute less than 3 percent of the population, also practiced a traditional indigenous religion. Other religions included Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and the Baha'i Faith. Practitioners of these religions predominantly were immigrants, descendents of immigrants, or recent converts. They resided primarily in urban areas. There were few atheists in the country. Muslims, almost exclusively Sunni and comprising both citizens and foreign nationals, represented less than 1 percent of the population.

Foreign missionary groups, including Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, and Baha'is, operated in the country.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government at all levels sought to protect this right in full and did not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. There is no state religion, nor does the Government subsidize any particular denomination.

The Government does not formally recognize any religion. Unlike in the past, the Government and senior ruling party officials no longer emphasize the role of three Christian denominations--Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic--in mobilizing political support. Since his election, President Pohamba has conferred with religious leaders of all persuasions, including the predominantly Afrikaner Dutch Reformed Church.

There are no registration requirements for religious organizations.

The Government recognizes the holy days of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination

The generally amicable relationship among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom. The Council of Churches has as its general secretary a member of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. There are two private religious radio stations and one free-to-air television channel. A widely available satellite television service offers four exclusively religious channels, including one serving the Muslim community. There were two reported cases of villagers in the north beating individuals suspected of witchcraft. Police arrested and charged five individuals, including one police officer, in one case; investigations continued in the second incident.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. U.S. embassy representatives had frequent contact with citizens and foreign visitors from a wide variety of religious faiths. The embassy continued to support activities that encourage respect for all aspects of human rights, including religious tolerance, through the Democracy and Human Rights Fund.

 



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