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Religion in Papua New Guinea
Citizen population in Papua New Guinea by religion, based on the 2011 census
Religion in Papua New Guinea is predominantly Christian, with traditional animism and ancestor worship often occurring less openly as another layer underneath or more openly side by side Christianity. The courts and government in both theory and practice uphold a constitutional right to freedom of speech, thought, and belief. A large majority of Papua New Guineans identify themselves as members of a Christian church (96% in the 2000 census); however, many combine their Christian faith with traditional indigenous beliefs and practices. Other religions represented in the country include the Bahá'í faith and Islam.
The 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom by the United States Department of State states that religious participations in the country are relatively peaceful and no reports of conflict are being reported. Public schools host a religious subject once per week and representatives of Christian churches teach the lessons, and the students attend the class operated by the church of their parents' choice. Children whose parents do not wish them to attend the classes are excused. Members of non-Christian religious groups are not numerous, and they use family and group gatherings before and after school for religious lessons.
United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
There are also a number of parachurch organizations:
The Summer Institute of Linguistics is a missionary institution drawing its support from conservative evangelical Protestant churches in the United States and to a lesser extent Australia; it translates the Bible into local languages and conducts extensive linguistic research.
The Bahá'í Faith in Papua New Guinea begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion there. The first Bahá'ís move there (what Bahá'ís mean by "pioneering",) in Papua New Guinea arrived there in 1954. With local converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958. The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969. According to the census of 2000 the number of Bahá'ís does not exceed 21000. But the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated three times more Bahá'ís at 60000 or 0.9% of the nation in 2005 Either way it is the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, if a small one. Among its more well known members are Margaret Elias and Sirus Naraqi.
Elias is the daughter of the first Papuan woman on the national assembly, and the country's first woman lawyer (in the 1970s), who attended the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and was awarded in 1995 and 2002 for her many years in the public service, particularly as in the national government and went on to support various initiatives for education.
Islam in Papua New Guinea counts for more than 5,000 followers, (most of whom are Sunni) mainly as a result of a recent spike in conversions. Despite being a dominant religion in neighbouring Indonesia, adherents of Islam make up a small segment of the population.
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^Marty Zelenietz, Shirley Lindenbaum -Sorcery and Social Change in Melanesia 1981- Page 66 The body shadow or reflection of the tamam cannot fuse with & finiik in the ancestral underworld, for a "witch's" finiik spirit entirely disintegrates at death. There are no tamam in the idyllic abode of the ancestors.