The old Tenochtitlán was conquered by the Spanish Empire in 1521, and catholicism was instaured in this land. Today, Mexico is the second most catholic country in the world, right behind Brazil. According to the INEGI (mexican statistics institution), in 2000, 90,4% of the Mexican people claimed to be catholic, against 3,8% of protestants, and 5,8% from other religions (including judaism, islamism, mayan mythology, and more). Nevertheless, Mexico is today a secular country.
The separation between the State and the Catholic Church took place through the Constitution of 1917 (which is still used today). The Church tried to fight against this Constitution: it persuaded peasants to revolt against the government, triggering the Cristera war of 1920. After this, a mutual consent that provided juridical personality to the Church emerged, and after 1992, the Constitution recognized some limited property rights to the Church. Today, the State doesn’t provide any financial subsidiary to the Catholic Church, and the latter doesn’t take any part in public education (although there are several private catholic educational institutions). Still, Christmas and Easter are national holidays and compulsory holidays in private and public education.
All along the years, from 1895 (the year when this kind of statistics was started to be analyzed), catholicism has slightly decreased in Mexican population, giving way to other religious practices, as well as to no practices at all.
Anthropologists interpret some religious practices in Mexico as a phenomenon called Popular Religion, just as the people understand it and practice it. There are magic-religious rituals made among indigenous groups, mixing catholic tradition and shamanism. To the catholic religion have also been added other beliefs, mainly from pre-Hispanic, African or Asian origins.
Religion can help in Mexican society, for example to reassure people, give them some inner peace. The problem that may be caused is that people may become too religious, and therefore leave their jobs aside just to celebrate every weekend a Saint or a divinity.
As most of the country is catholic, there are no major clashes between religions.
One very important event is Easter: in many places around the country, a representation of the crucifixion of the Christ is made, and a casting for the people who will play Jesus, Mary and the rest of the characters is organized. This is seen as one of the major Mexican folkloric events in the world.
by Wendy T.