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Monday, 06 June 2011 00:00
Religious Freedom Ranking:
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement


LiberiaLiberia has a population of 3.5 million people. Christians account for 85.5 percent of the population, 12.2 percent of the people are Muslim, 0.5 percent practice indigenous beliefs, and 1.5 percent belong to or practice no religion. Other religions account for only 0.1 percent of the population. Among this group, there are Baha’is, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Among the Christians there are Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, United Methodists, African Methodist Episcopalians, AME Zion members, and various Pentecostal denominations.

The 1986 Constitution recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental right, but reserves the right to ban some religious practices "as may be required by law to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” Liberia has no established state religion. Leaders of religious denominations are prohibited from holding political office.

While the government generally respects the right of religious freedom, Muslims complain of discrimination by the government in the allotment of jobs and as a result of a law requiring that businesses be closed on Sundays and Christian holidays. Also, ethnic Mandinko and Fula Muslims face increased scrutiny when applying for documentation. Furthermore, public schools often teach classes on Christianity. However, students are not required to take these. Tension between Christians and Muslims exists, especially in the northern part of the country where most Muslims live. In 1999 and 2000, these tensions erupted in violent confrontations and the burning of five mosques in Lofa County.

The situation is aggravated by Liberia's experience of a bloody seven-year civil war that ended in 1996. In that year, Charles Taylor was elected president. Since 2000, however, the government has been waging a brutal campaign against insurgents in Lofa County. Many, if not most, of the insurgents are Mandingo Muslims who opposed Charles Taylor in the civil war. In their campaign against the insurgents the government security forces have been accused of egregious human rights abuses.

Throughout the country there have been numerous reports of ritual murders and the consumption of body parts by members of some indigenous religious groups. In one case, a suspected killing of a Christian girl near a mosque in Lofa County led to rioting between Christians and Muslims in the area. There were four deaths, numerous injuries, and damage done to several mosques and churches.

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Liberia
Liberia - New World Encyclopedia

Liberia Country Profile- BBC News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:46