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May 4, 2011

Census shows less believers in the church state system

The results of the 2010 census are revealing on a number of issues. More people live in the village of Ladyville than in the town of Punta Gorda, there are more women than men, but more men are gainfully employed in the workforce but a staggering twenty-three percent of the population is jobless. Another interesting statistic is that while the flock of the Catholic Church is diminishing as of late, it remains the dominant denomination. So how does this affect the church-state system of education? News Five’s Isani Cayetano takes a look at how the church is coping with this new trend.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The sacrament of Holy Eucharist is one of several religious rites students must receive during their years in primary school.  That is if they are attending a Catholic public institution managed by the Diocesan Mission.  Here at St. Joseph School a handful of standard three students are filing into church to practice for the upcoming event.  Together they form a microcosm of an enrolment of nine hundred and twenty, some who are not members of the denomination.

Noel Leslie

Fr. Noel Leslie, Vicar General, Catholic Diocese

When such children come into our schools we treat them as our own and we’d never try to force our religion down their throats as such.  I love the words of Pope Benedict XVI who would say the church proposes but the church does not impose.  And we as a Catholic church have learned this well over the years that it is best for us to propose rather than to impose.”

Over the years schools that are run under the church/state system, as in the case of St. Joseph, have had to welcome students of varying religious backgrounds.  That transition became most evident during the last decade when membership in the faith declined by ten percent.

Glenn Avilez, Director General, SIB (File April 29th, 2011)

“In terms of religion we see that the Roman Catholics have decreased their share of the total population. Ten years ago they represented about fifty percent or half of the population and now they have only forty percent. Some of that change is attributed to growth, significant growth in other religions, particularly the Pentecostals and as I mentioned in our presentation we have a group of persons who have declared that they do not belong to any religion.”

The change in numbers will inevitably affect the stronghold the Catholic Church has had on the education system.  According to Father Noel Leslie, the bishop’s assistant, the results of the 2010 census as it pertains to religion were unsurprising.

Fr. Noel Leslie

“I saw an increase of people who are not Catholics moving into our country especially from the Central American countries.  As you well know countries like Guatemala and Honduras and [El] Salvador and others have a large evangelical population which has occurred over the past few years.  Since the 1980s many of those people have moved into our country and they have brought their new religions with them plus people who have come from other parts of the world.  So yes, I saw this influx as a sign that our numbers as we knew it, where we were number one would be diminished over a period of time.”

Notwithstanding the reduction Catholicism remains the single largest religion in Belize.  Conversely, Avilez noted a nominal increase within the Hispanic population since 2000.

Glenn Avilez

“In terms of ethnicity we have, yes, a larger Hispanic population but in terms of percentage it has only gone up by a percentage point. In 2000 we had almost forty-nine percent Hispanics. In 2010 we are at fifty percent so you are only talking about a one percentage point.”

But even with the tide of religious beliefs the Catholic Church remains firm in its role as the driving force in education.

Fr. Noel Leslie

“The church will always have an interest in education and this has been a part of our history going way back into the early history of the church in Europe and other parts of the world and also in our own country Belize.  So we look at the signs of the times and I believe the church, with the vision it has, will adjust itself to deal with the local situation in time.”

And that will undoubtedly mean having to accept that there are a growing number of non-Catholics who are sending their children to Catholic schools simply based on the quality of education being afforded. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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27 Responses for “Census shows less believers in the church state system”

  1. islander says:

    Wow I am glad that the Catholic church has changed its stance, when I was a kid going to Mount Carmel Primary School in Benque we were forced to go to church on every Sunday. It was so bad that we had to have the priest sign a special slip of paper, if we showed up to school on Monday and our slip was not signed we were punished by chopping the yard with a machete.. I graduated from Mount Carmel Primary School in 1998 so this wasn’t that long ago..

    They love to brainwash people and force them to listen to their crap… TALK ABOUT MORALS….but yet every time a priest molests a young fella they do not have anything to say…

  2. fureal says:

    @ Islander then you should have leave the school if you don’t believe their doctrine. Stop your nonsense its only when you want to use the church to get a good and solid education that you won’t have anything to say. I am tired for ppl like you bashing the church when you damn well know that if it wasn’t for the church you would not be were you are now. Belizeans like you users……

  3. Lijah. says:

    Hold up… First of all the catholic is not a church, it is a cult. Second, In 1998 there were not many other schools beside the church-state system. The thing is we went to school for education not for cult crap to be forced on us. The catholic cult tries to use the school to force garbage on innocent students. Constitution speaks of freedom in religion. Why would they force you to go to church if you dont go to their mass?!!?!?!?! Frikkin Cults!

  4. Student says:

    I am very aware that most children going to catholic schools are not of that denomination. It is interesting that Mr. Leslie said that they ‘never try to force…religion down their throats’. I am from cayo district as well, and I have witnessed the treatment non-catholic students get. (@islander: Yes, I remember too, how they used to force us to attend church, or get punished.)
    I remember distinctly the way my teacher used to behave with me. I was even told I would perish in hell, simply because I did not share their beliefs.
    It would be nice for the administration to keep encouraging all teachers to ‘propose rather than impose’. It is commendable that Mr. Leslie mentioned that.

  5. Honestly says:

    Unfortunately in Belize what choices are there when it comes to education? 98% of the schools in Belize are religious, so without options those that don’t agree with the religion should what? Not attend school? Children should not be forced to believe or agree with the school’s doctrine, that is just ridiculous. It is a parents responsibility to instill religion in their children, teach them right from wrong, and lead them in the path to God. Besides the fact is, those in the school’s don’t even have an understanding of the bible themselves, so what are they teaching the children?

  6. Makey says:

    Islander does have a point, yes we need an education and we have to pay for it but i don’t think it’s right to force your children into the religion, it should be up to them if they want to join.
    However, don’t criticize, God should be the only judge.

  7. Carrie says:

    islander is talking crap because i have relatives that went to that same school who are not catholics and were never forced to go to church….they were encouraged but never forced. Many parents don’t even encourage their children to visit any church and listen to the word of God but yet these same children grow up and get invoved in wrong things….just as we have time for play and party we should have time for our Lord….and I see nothing wrong in a school encouraging the students to go to church..the more faith we have, the more our country is blessed by the Mighty One…

  8. Abudar says:

    LIKE Islander.

  9. Loren Delgado says:

    I do not know why you all are complaining about Catholic Church. I am a Catholic and I went to a Catholic school in Cayo and I was never forced to go to church on Sunday’s. If you people do not like the idea of going to church and you or your children are or were attending a catholic school then don’t go to a catholic school or send your children to a catholic school there are other denominations in Belize that you can attend or your children for that matter. You will still have religon stuffed down your throats whether you like it or not. Like I said I am catholic but my kids aren’t attending catholic school why? I cannot afford to send my kids to a catholic school here in the U.s. If I could afford it I would rather they go to a catholic school, but I can’t afford it.

  10. jawaan84 says:

    In my opinion relgion should not be the focal point of our society. If you really wanted to religion in schools., then you should teach the children in belize. The good and the bad of western religion. The children in belize should be studying philosophy, ethics, and morality. These are the most important concepts of any industralized nation. The future of belize is sitting in a classroom and the only thing that they are looking for is the truth.

  11. Jer says:

    Hear ye Hear ye,
    I went to a catholic school for all my primary years less the last year. They will never force a catholic to go. The catholics go. In that school the word of God was never preached. The priests came in and rambled some funny language no one ever understood. That never taught me anything about God. Matter of fact I saw him smoking one time after conducting mass. What example is that? Then the people repeated one thing over and over in response. What is Christ like in them ramblings? Now i had to leave when the principal used to leave us n go smoke up in his house, eyes red n tings wen he came back down. Rumors was that he smoked weed. And one day he lined us all up to go arond the church and kneel to some pictures lined off on the wall, i think it was stations of the cross. My question was what is the sence praying to some pictures on a wall without life? I did not as I couldnt see the sence kneeling to pray to those objects. He gave us another chance n I never did either so he lined us up and whipped us, about five of us, so this is no make up story. I then left that school n went to the methodist school. There they more taught about God and not kneel to objects without life.

    People are no more fools. They are seeing the truth and moving out. See the results, percentage is dropping. I never had a Bible class in my catholic school days. Never saw a catholic bible. So whats the use its a christian school and there’s no connection with the bible and thereby no connection with Christ? The majority of people now givin battery are from catholic schools. That spells something?

  12. Ginseng says:

    PRAISE CHEEZUS! Our people are coming to their senses!!!!

  13. Ginseng says:

    In Friday’s report it was mentioned that there is significant growth in people who have declared that they do not belong to any religion.

    I think that should be the additional highlight from the theological findings of the census. That indicates progress and advancement in REASON. I’d like figures on those.

  14. Elgin Martinez says:

    Why are the findings of the Census surprizing to the Catholic Diocease when everytime you turn your TV on to watch the news,one of their priest is molesting some minor.Maybe we need to start doing background check on the Catholic priests in Belize.That’s what you’re supose to be focusing on Mr Leslie.

  15. Helen says:

    Keep on hating that’s all you can do. You should focus on all the positive things that the Catholic Church has done for the people and country of Belize, and the rest of the world for that matter. Most of you posting all these negative comments are probably graduates of Catholic schools. What Catholic schools add to their curriculum, like every other evangelical school is Morality which comes in the form of Religion. So learning right from wrong isn’t a bad thing.

  16. BZNinCALI says:

    Great point Elgin. We have had pedophile & just plain manhos dressed in Priests frocks for years & we continue to sit around & question why no one listens when Father speaks. On the positive side, we now have a generation willing to question what our parents assumed was the Gospel. Rather than spending every Wednesday during lent going to church & teaching our children to say, “Yes Lord”, “Hear our prayer” , “And also with you”, take that time to teach them how to resolve problems without violence instead of that sick loyalty to religion/cult that many from my generation grew up with & how it was used to manipulate & control us.

  17. Elgin Martinez says:

    Helen:You don’t even know how many kids in Belize might have also being victims of sexual harassment by some of these Catholic priests.If they’ve done it in America,Who is to say that they havn’t done it in Belize where we look up to any and every foreigner not knowing who they are?

  18. a Catholic says:

    its a shame, cause there is nothing wrong with catholic. If people would just stop they’re $#!% and keep their faith and god alive, everything would be ok. The only thing Belize had going for them is god and they are screwing that up. Im glad that the school are religious cause then they will try to teach the children the right way to go.

  19. Ginseng says:

    A Catholic said: “If people would just stop they’re $#!% and keep their faith and god alive, everything would be ok. ”

    Yeeeeeeah. That’s why everything is peaceful in super religious places like the Middle East.

    Trust in Allah!

  20. Ginseng says:

    Here’s a good resource to open your minds. http://richarddawkins.net/

  21. MACAL RIVERA says:

    YES I AGREE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS A CULT, THEY PREACH ONE THING AND DO SOMETHING ELSE, I HAVE NEVER SET A FOOT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND NEVER WILL,
    ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HEAR NEWS OF THE SO CALLED FATHERS MOLESTING YOUNG BOYS MEIN, HOW CAN I EVER TRUST THEM, I BELIEVE IN THE GOD THAT CREATED EVERYTHING IN HEAVEN AND EARTH, OTHER THAN THAT GOING TO CHURCH WILL NOT SAVE ME, BUT THOSE CATHOLIC ARE A VERY HYPOCRITE SET OF PEOPLE, THEY ARE DISGUSTING, IMAGINE FATHER RAPING YOUNG BOYS HMMM. jESUS SPOKE ABOUT THEM THEY ARE LIKE TOMBS, OUTSIDE THEY LOOK GOOD BUT INSIDE THEY ARE FULL OR ROTTEN MEAT AND STINKS.

  22. Ambassador says:

    Damn fools, senseless morons. That’s why the country is in a pittable state because of your stupid ignorance and instead of contributing to the good of society you are the disgrace of the JEWEL called BELIZE. Talking about not seen a Catholic Bible and that it is a cult? Attacking the Catholic Church as if it were the only church in the nation? It says Church state system you ignorant low self esteemed fools; so why launch a attack on a single religious institution? You obviously have no idea what you’re saying. Complaining about being forced to attend Mass, to make it primary school and forced to do cut grass of school-yard with machete;come on! Why did you not quit and went somewhere else you hypocrite! You all sound like some dilusional people. Jesus spoke to all! Who made you a judge? You’re all blind and not capable of convincing those who see the light!

  23. GUMA says:

    To all of you critizing the Catholic Church, you are the same people who criticize when there are murders and violence in Belize. At least the Catholic Church is teaching about God in school and urging students to attend church. Some of you say that Religion should be taught by parents, and we all know that it does not work that way. How many of you teach Religion or read the Bible or pray with your children?

    You all want God out of the classrooms, so don’t be surprised when the violence increases in Belize.

    And to all of you who criticize the pedophile priests, at least the Catholic Church does not hide the fact that there are some bad priests. All religions have bad elements, I know what I am talking about, my neighbour was a Protestant church pastor and he lived in full luxury and sexually harassed a neighbour and offered her a house and car and told her she would never have to work if she became his lover.

    I was raised in a Catholic family and attended a Catholic school, I do not live in my beloved country however I still say my prayers every morning and every night and attend Mass in a regular basis. I have never committed a crime or pointed a gun at someone else. I AM PROUD TO BE A CATHOLIC!!

    Trust me, it is always better to have religion in your life than to have none at all!!!!

  24. chabelli says:

    Not all priests are perverts but some perverts are priest;highly educated community

  25. BZNinCALI says:

    @Helen, as a child who went to school in Belize City in the 60s & 70s, we often saw behavior that should not have been condoned. Our culture, our history of colonialism, of accepting a pecking order in which we were always at the bottom allowed us to tolerate behavior most of these men could not practice anywhere else. The only priest ever punished in Belize was not prosecuted by the Government, he was beheaded in Corozal if I remember correctly for indiscriminately screwing other men’s wives, that was more than 50 years ago. The “white” children born to nonwhite parents did not ‘take after dehn generations’ , they were fathered by white men, some of them priests. Rather than address why many Belizeans treated them & their property with minimal respect, St Ignatius topped off their high fence with barbed wire to keep the locals out or at least from minding the priests business.

    In the 60s & 70s, several parents made the decision to attend mass at Holy Redeemer instead of Natius because one of the freaks in frocks was eying their boys. Our fear of having our boys branded for life as homosexuals got in the way of us standing up & doing what was right. Another celibate priest had a child in the early 70s with one of his parishioners, a Palotti HS graduate. He openly went to her home & was often seen walking with & holding her hand, at least he did not pretend the child was not his. That same hypocrite was expected to counsel young people to abstain from sex until they were married. By the way, if I remember correctly, when he was placed in charge of St. Joseph which was before he impregnated his employee, many of those prominent Belizean Catholics who worshiped there went to Holy Redeemer because they could not stand to be led by a Garifuna.

    The other denominations weren’t much better, we had a Bishop all of us were proud of who had a reputation for servicing at least one young girl in every village where he had a flock & that was in addition to having a girlfriend & wife in the city.

    So Helen you are right, a lot of us who are being critical were beneficiaries of our church/state system & grew enough to see its hypocrisy & will not allow our children to follow blindly or be taken advantage of.

  26. I Have Awaken says:

    No man or unforeseen force should be worshiped. We should only give Thanksgiving to the Creator and service to others, most folks need to look into the law of one to understand the world we live on and the universe set out before us. However, I must state I am not here to disregard anyone’s belief, I am set forth on this planet to try and ascend to the 4th density and find myself and in that journey hopefully help a fellow human find themselves. Each need to find themselves and stop having people telling them who they are.

  27. Jesus is the only Hope says:

    The foundation of a good life begins with Jesus, the is the Rock on which the world was made…and continues to be. Its a shame that most people are abandoning their faith. people ask why is there so much crime, why is the country going topsy turvy? Well God is the only one who can mend lives and direct a mans path we were born to a sinful world our nature is sin. Keeping God alive and instilled in children heart is the only hope we have for a better future. Children up to teen years and beyond need guidance they think their ways are right when its not. We should never judge but we are called to exhort. Yes and God is a Jealous God he made it clear that we should not worship any thing on the earth, air or water. We dont see Him but we feel Him we dont need images all we need is faith – believing on things unseen. He is just and loving. If God is absent from a life then there is no hope-a lost soul…we are not perfect He knows that thats why we were given rules to live by. No one can save another soul except Christ we were called to help others not to judge. Children are the future of our beloved country without them lead rightly then…we’re lost.

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