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Religion in Papua New Guinea

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Title: Religion in Papua New Guinea  
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Subject: Religion in Papua New Guinea, Religion in Tokelau, Religion in the Marshall Islands, Religion in Palau, Religion in Nauru
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Religion in Papua New Guinea

Religion in Papua New Guinea is predominantly Christian with traditional animist and ancestor worship still found in some places. The courts and government in both theory and practice uphold a constitutional right to freedom of speech, thought, and belief. A large majority of Papua New Guineans identify themselves as members of a Christian church (96% in the 2000 census), however many combine their Christian faith with traditional indigenous beliefs and practices.[1] Other religions represented in the country include Bahá'í faith and Islam.[2]

The 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom by the United States Department of State states that religious participations in the country are relatively peaceful and no reports of conflict are being reported. Public schools host a religious subject once per week and representatives of Christian churches teach the lessons, and the students attend the class operated by the church of their parents' choice. Children whose parents do not wish them to attend the classes are excused. Members of non-Christian religious groups are not numerous, and they use family and group gatherings before and after school for religious lessons.[3]


The 2000 census percentages were as follows:

In 2010, emerging Christian denominations include the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Members Church of God International.

The Papua New Guinea Council of Churches members are:

  • Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
  • Gutnius Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod)
  • Union Baptist
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea
  • United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
  • Salvation Army

There are also a number of parachurch organizations:

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith in Papua New Guinea begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion there.[5] The first Bahá'ís move there (what Bahá'ís mean by "pioneering",) in Papua New Guinea arrived there in 1954.[6] With local converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.[7] The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969.[8] According to the census of 2000 the number of Bahá'ís does not exceed 21000.[9] But the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated three times more Bahá'ís at 60000 or 0.9% of the nation in 2005[10] Either way it is the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, if a small one. Among its more well known members are Margaret Elias and Sirus Naraqi.

Elias is the daughter of the first Papuan woman on the national assembly,[11] and the country's first woman lawyer (in the 1970s),[12] who attended the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and was awarded in 1995 and 2002 for her many years in the public service, particularly as in the national government and went on to support various initiatives for education.[13]

Naraqi lived and worked in Papua New Guinea from 1977–79 and 1983–98, partially doing clinical medical work as well as teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea, where he was awarded in 1999 and had served as a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Australasia since 1985.[14]


Islam in Papua New Guinea counts approximately 2,000 to 4,000 followers,[15][16] most of whom are Sunni. Despite being a dominant religion in neighbouring Indonesia, adherents of Islam make up a small segment of the population. However, in recent years there has been a rapid increase in the number of people converting to Islam.[17]

Traditional religions

Traditional religions are often animist and many have elements of ancestor worship.


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See also


  1. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2003"US Department of State . Retrieved 2006-03-23. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Refworld
  4. ^ "History Catholic Church in PNG". Retrieved 2006-03-23. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "A life in pursuit of noble endeavors". Bahá'í World News Service (Bahá’í International Community). 29 June 2004. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Celebrations held throughout the land". Bahá'í World News Service (Bahá’í International Community). 8 May 2004. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  9. ^ "East & Southeast Asia - Papua New Guinea". CIA World Factbook. November 13, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Baha'is in PNG". NSA of Baha'is of PNG. 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "From around the world, Bahá'í women converge on Beijing". One Country (Bahá'í International Community) 7 (2). September 1995. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Elder, Papua New Guinea, Global University for Lifelong Learning". Global University for Lifelong Learning. 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ "A special place in the rose garden". Bahá'í World News Service (Bahá’í International Community). 18 August 2004. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2006"US Department of State . Retrieved 2006-03-23. 
  17. ^

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