ReligionSee also: Religion in Albania, Christianity in Albania, Islam in Albania, and Judaism in Albania
The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late 11th century. At this point, they were already fully Christianized. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam, which kept the scepter of the major religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until 1912. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism continued to be practiced with less frequency.
During the 20th century the monarchy and later the totalitarian state followed a systematic secularization of the nation and the national culture. This policy was chiefly applied within the borders of the current Albanian state. It produced a secular majority in the population. All forms of Christianity, Islam and other religious practices were prohibited except for old non-institutional Pagan practices in the rural areas, which were seen as identifying with the national culture. The current Albanian state has revived some pagan festivals, such as the Spring festival (Albanian: Dita e Verës) held yearly on March 14 in the city of Elbasan. It is a national holiday.
In the preliminary results of the latest census in 2011, 70% of all Albanians did not declare adherence to any particular religion. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics but clarifies "percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice." Most of the Muslims in Albania are Sunni Muslims and Bektashi Muslims There are also Orthodox Christians, predominantly in Southern Albania, bordering Greece, and Roman Catholicism is the main religion among those Albanians living predominantly in northern Albania, bordering the Republic of Montenegro. After 1992 an influx of foreign missionaries has brought more religious diversity with groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Hindus, Bahá'í, a variety of Christian denominations and others. This rich blend of religions has however rarely caused religious strife. People of different religions freely intermarry. For part of its history, Albania has also had a Jewish community. Some of the members of the Jewish community were saved by a group of Albanians during the Nazi occupation. Many left for Israel circa 1990–1992 after borders were open due to fall of communist regime in Albania, while in modern times about 200 Albanian Jews still live in Albania.
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Famous quotes containing the word religion:
“If ... we admit a divinity, why not divine worship? and if worship, why not religion to teach this worship? and if a religion, why not the Christian, if a better cannot be assigned, and it be already established by the laws of our country, and handed down to us from our forefathers?”
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