Christianity in Kuwait
|Christianity by country|
Christianity in Kuwait is a minority religion, accounting for 10%-20% of the country's population, or 650,000 people. Kuwait's Christians can be divided into 2 groups. The first group are Christians who are native Kuwaitis numbering approximately between 200 and 400 people. The second group, who make up the majority of Christians in Kuwait, are expatriates from various countries around the world. There are also a number of believers in Christ from a Muslim background in the country, though many are not citizens. A 2015 study estimates some 350 such Christians in the country.
Kuwait's native Christian population is diverse. There are between 259 and 400 Christian Kuwaiti citizens. In 2014, there were 259 Christian Kuwaitis residing in Kuwait.
Christian Kuwaitis can be divided into 2 groups. The first group includes the earliest Kuwaiti Christians, who originated from Iraq and Turkey. They have assimilated into Kuwaiti society, like their Muslim counterparts, and tend to speak Arabic with a Kuwaiti dialect; their food and culture are also predominantly Kuwaiti. The make up roughly a quarter of Kuwait's Christian population. The rest (roughly three-quarters) of Christian Kuwaitis make up the second group. They are more recent arrivals in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly Kuwaitis of Palestinian ancestry who were forced out of Palestine after 1948. There are also smaller numbers who originally hail from Syria and Lebanon. This second group is not as assimilated as the first group, as their food, culture, and Arabic dialect still retain a Levant feel. However, they are just as patriotic as the former group, and tend to be proud of their adopted homeland, with many serving in the army, police, civil, and foreign service. Most of Kuwait's citizen Christians belong to 12 large families, with the Shammas (from Turkey) and the Shuhaibar (from Palestine) families being some of the more prominent ones.
Although there is a small community of Christian citizens, a law passed in 1981 prevents the naturalization of non-Muslims. However, male citizens who were Christians before 1980 (and male children born to families of such citizens since that date), can transmit their citizenship to their children.
Kuwait is the only GCC country besides Bahrain to have a local Christian population who hold citizenship.
Traditionally, Eastern Orthodox Christians in Kuwait belong to the jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Eastern Orthodox parish in Kuwait was reorganized in 1969 by late metropolitan Constantine Papastephanou of Baghdad and Kuwait (1969-2014), who visited Kuwait on many occasions. His successor is Metropolitan Ghattas Hazim of Baghdad and Kuwait (since 2014). His official seat remains in Baghdad, but administrative headquarters of the Archdiocese are located in Kuwait. Today, Eastern Orthodox parishes in Kuwait are administered by priests Ephrem Toumi and Filimon Saifi.
- Amanuel Benjamin Ghareeb (born 1950), an important Kuwaiti priest and representative of the Evangelical Church of Kuwait.
The denominations of both citizen and foreign Christians in Kuwait include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 140,000 Catholics in Kuwait. There is a cathedral in Kuwait City, which belongs to the Vicariate Apostolic of Kuwait. The Catholic Vicariate is largely made up of Asians from India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and Arab Christians from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. Maronite Christians, mostly from Lebanon, also worship at the Catholic cathedral in Kuwait City. A small group of Catholics are from Europe and the Americas.
- 67,500 Orthodox Christians, at least. The Greek Orthodox Church has about 3,500 members, while the Armenian Orthodox Church has about 4,000 members. The Coptic Orthodox Church has about 60,000 members. Totals for both the Greek Catholic (Eastern Rite) Church membership and Indian Orthodox Church membership more than 6,000.
- 50,000 Protestants in Kuwait. The Anglican Church has about 115 members. The National Evangelical Church has about 15,000 members. There are also other Christian Protestant denominations in the country, with tens of thousands of members. These denominations include the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- Other religious groups include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has a ward (congregation) of approximately 300 that meets in a villa in Salmiyah.
The constitution allows for religious freedom. Many churches exist in Kuwait. Kuwait's largest cathedral is situated in the eastern part of Kuwait city.
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