The Catholic cathedral that communists turned into a basketball arena for two decades is now busier than ever, drawing more than 2,000 people to a single Sunday Mass. An ornate Albanian Orthodox church with three grand, peach-colored domes is readying for Easter celebrations and popular midnight candlelit processions. And a few days ago, the latest of more than 50 mosques in the area opened with fanfare and a call to prayer.Prior to the communist era, Albania had a long history of being a multi-faith culture where Christian and Muslims got along fine. The biggest danger now comes from fundamentalist Christians and Muslim missionaries who preach intolerance.
In a country that once officially outlawed God, religion is back -- but in a different way than before the long experiment in godlessness. Many Albanians have resumed spiritual practices with a faith strengthened by the years of suppression. At the same time, new practices and beliefs are being planted by a wave of foreign missionaries and money, making this tiny Adriatic country a remarkable example of the globalization of religion.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Albanians Get Religion Back
For years, Albania was the communist country that did the most to stamp out religion. All religious practices were banned; all religious buildings were either converted into secular facilities or torn down. But with the end of communism, religion is coming back. From the Washington Post: