Honduras is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, although Evangelical Protestant churches have been growing very quickly in recent years. A 2002 poll found that 63 percent of Hondurans reported themselves as Catholic, 23 percent as evangelical Christians, and 14 percent as “other” (or did not answer).
Traditional Amerindian religious practices have been all but forgotten, except for a few ceremonies still practiced in rural areas. A belief in magic and witchcraft is common among Hondurans in both rural and urban areas.
The Catholic Church
The Catholic church in Honduras has traditionally been one of the poorest and most understaffed in Central America. Approximately 300 ordained priests minister to a population of nearly eight million, and most of the priests are from other countries. In the face of this difficulty, the church began a program called Delegates of the Word, in which men and women of the laity are trained to be spiritual leaders of a given parish. Now some 30,000 Delegates of the Word live in Honduras, and the movement has spread through much of Central America. A small Jesuit mission continues in the central province of Yoro, run mainly by foreign missionaries.
Unlike other Catholic churches in the region, notably in El Salvador, the Honduran church has not been a major force for social activism. For a time during the 1960s and early 1970s, church leadership allowed priests and delegates to pursue the “social option for the poor” and take an activist stance. But the massacre of 10 campesinos, two students, and two priests in Olancho in 1975 at the hands of wealthy landowners put a fast end to the campaign. Since the mid-1980s, the church has once again begun to speak up on social issues but is not considered activist.
Moravian missionaries were the first foreign religious group to come to Honduras, arriving in the Mosquitia region in the 1930s. Since the 1980s, evangelical groups, many sponsored by North Americans, have been growing rapidly. Denominations include the more traditional evangelical Baptist and Adventist churches, and Pentecostal churches such as the Assembly of God and the Church of God. The Moravian presence remains strong in the Mosquitia (although most Miskitos still identify themselves as Catholics), while Baptist churches can be found in nearly every town in the South. A 2002 poll found that nearly a quarter of the Honduran population responded that they are evangelical Christians, and that number is on the rise.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition