Sunday March 27 2016

Catholics, Anglicans decline as Muslims, Pentecostals rise

By Yasiin Mugerwa

KAMPALA- Even though Catholics and Anglicans are still the dominant faiths in the country, they are losing believers to the Islamic faith, Pentecostals/Born Again/ Evangelicals and the Seventh Day Adventists.

The 2014 National Population and Housing Census has indicated that in the last 10 years, Catholics and Anglicans have declined yet Muslims, Pentecostals, the Seventh Day Adventists and traditionalists are increasing in number.

Muslims have increased from 12.4 per cent in 2002 to 13.7 per cent in 2014 and the Pentecostals have also increased from 4.7 per cent to 11.1 per cent. The traditionalists have also made slight gain from 1.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent.

The Baptists were not enumerated as a separate religious group.
On the other hand the Catholics have reduced from 41.6 per cent in 2002 to now 39.3 per cent (over 13.5million) and Anglicans reduced from 36.7 per cent to 32.0 per cent (over 11 million) of the total population of 34.6 million.

The cause
This means that within a period of ten years at least 795, 800 Catholics and 1,626,200 Anglicans have either converted to Islam, embraced the Pentecostal movement or became traditionalists.

In a space of 10 years the two dominant religions combined have lost more than 2.5 million believers.

Asked why Catholics and Anglicans have declined, Mr Mark Kajuba, a senior demographer at Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), attributed the drop to the rising tide of Pentecostal movement that is fishing from the dominant Christian religious groups. The Pentecostals have increased at the expense of Catholics and Anglicans, Mr Kajuba said.
The Pentecostal churches are vibrant and most of the youth have become “born- again” Christians. The Pentecostals and Evangelists are fishing from Catholics and Anglicans more than any other religion.

However, in terms of absolute numbers, Mr Kajuba said, Catholics and Anglicans are still the dominant religious groups in the country.

Mr Kajuba could not explain why exactly the Muslims are rising insisting that if its the case of polygamy, the situation has been the same in the previous census years.

When contacted yesterday, Hajj Nsereko Mutumba, the spokesperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, rejected the 13.7 per cent captured in the Census report as the Muslim population in the country and accused Ubos officials of manipulating statistics to justify why Muslims have been marginalised.

“We don’t agree with Ubos figures, there are manipulations to depict Muslims as minority yet the situation is different,” Hajj Mutumba said.

Many wives, more children
“According to our figures, Muslims are 25 per cent of the total population and not 13.7 per cent. We have two to four wives and we are producing about six children in a space of two to three years, how can you then say that we are only 4.7 million in a country of 34.6million?”Hajj Mutumba said.

He added: “Islamic faith came to Uganda in 1844, the Protestants in 1877 and Catholics in 1879. Are they saying for a period of over 30 years, Muslims were dead and were not producing children? Whenever it comes to census results, they reduce our numbers for political reasons and they are not serious.”

The Ubos figures, however, show that Ugandans who don’t believe in any religion have reduced from 0.9 per cent in 2002 to 0.2 per cent in 2014.

This result reaffirms the long held view that Uganda is a God-fearing country. In a period of 10 years, the Orthodox have remained the same with 0.1 per cent of the total population.

Rev Fr Silvester Arinaitwe of Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) and Anglicans’ Provincial Secretary, Rev Canon Amos Magezi, were reported busy by press time as repeated calls went unanswered.

Uganda is characterised by a diversity of religious groups and practices. However, Catholics and Anglicans combined account for more than 80 per cent of the total population.