Population: About 47 million people
During Franco’s dictatorship, Catholicism was the state religion. Non-Catholics, especially evangelicals, were subject to discrimination and even persecution. The 1978 constitution guaranteed equality of rights for all ideologies and religions, though Catholicism remains under special consideration from the State. The “cooperation agreements” with the government signed in 1992 for evangelicals, Muslims and Jews are a step forward. Spain is fast moving from a traditional Catholic society to a secular-dominated, multicultural, multi- religious one.
False beliefs are quickly multiplying – a natural consequence of the rapidly formed vacuum left by departure from religious faith. Spaniards flirting with occult practices is common. New Age deceptions abound. Marginal cults such as Jehovah’s Witnessesand Mormons have a large presence, augmented now by the arrival of new foreign sects and other religions. Spain has one of the world’s heaviest users of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Around two million take drugs, most of them young people. Gambling addiction remains a problem for the nation as well.
Still there is many things to be grateful for. Spain’s transformation since 1978 is astonishing, from dictatorship to liberty, poverty to wealth, isolation to integration into Europe and religious discrimination to religious liberty. Spain has had only two brief periods of religious freedom, 1868-1875 and 1931-1939, before the new Constitution passed in 1978. Thank God for more than 30 years of liberty, and pray that Spain’s believers would take full advantage of it.