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Spanish Religion

Spanish First Communion
Figure 1.-- First Communion is an important event for many Spanish children. Here we see four Spanish children at their First Communion with a little brother joining in for the occassion. The boys wear short pants outfits with knee socks. This is not as common ads it once was. The girl wears a short white dress. Longer dresses are more common, often done as junior bridal dresses.

Religion has played a major role in Spanish history and culture. Spain is a predominately Roman Catholic country, although like the rest of Europe, observation had declined in an increasingly secular country. We do not know a great deal about religion in ancient Spain. Some of the country was briefly dominated by Carthage, but seized by Rome in the Punic Wars (3rd century BC). To what extent the Chartheginians spread their relgion, we do not know. Roman paganism seems wide spread at the time the Empire was established and Rome completed its conquest of Spain (1st century BC). As in other areas of the Empire, Christianity slowly spread and became the state religion (4th century AD). The prosperous Roman colony was desvestated by pagan Germanic tribes (5th century AD). The Visigoths emerged as the dominant force and established a kingdom which eventually united with the the largely Christian and more numerous Roman-Iberian people. King Reccared made Christianity the state religion and recognized the authority of the Roman pope (6th century AD). Almost all of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by invading Moorish tribes who introduced Islam (8th century. Gradually suviving Christian princes in the northwest aided by Charlemagne launched the (Reconquista). Christian and Muslamic zealots considered the diversity of religion a weakness. In fact the period in which Christians, Jews, and Muslims oracticed their religion weith a degree of freedom led to Spain becoming the brightest intelectual and cultural center in Europe. Gradually the Christan kingsoms expanded southward and re-chrritianized the Peninsula which was completed with the fall of Granda (1492). Almost immnediatelly Ferdinand and Isbella expelled the Jews and Muslims. The Inquisition went after the Conversos and effectively prevented Protestantism from gaining a foothold in Spain. The monarchy also waged war against both the Protestants in northern Rurope and the Mislim Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean. It also firmly established Catholocism in its overseas empire. Despite the great wealth from the Empire, Spain wasted huge sums in military expeditions. And because the Inquisition stifeled the intelecual discourse and sciende sweeping much of the rest of Europe, the economy declined. Spain became a backwater, but a very Catholic backwater. The Spanish Catholic Church continued to be a very conservative force into the 20th century. The Church supported Franco in the Civil War (1936-39). And throughout the Franco era, the state supported the Church. Since Franco's death (1975), Spain has developed a more secular scociety. Today in Spain most people identify as being Cathloic, but this is often more of a cultural than a religious description. Many left-wing Spainards view the Church in negative terms. Socialist governments have passed secular legislation on marriage and abortion. As with other European countries, Muslims from North Africa, especially Morocco, have emigrated to Spain. There is also a small Jewish minority.


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Created: 12:31 AM 2/1/2011
Last updated: 12:31 AM 2/1/2011