By most measures, religion is not a particularly important factor in modern Lendosa. About 65% the population is religious, but few of those people are strongly so - only a small number say that they consider their religious beliefs to be a major part of their lives. According to recent surveys, fewer than a fifth of all Lendosans say that they base most of their views of morality on religious teachings. Moreover, the number of believers in Lendosa has been steadily declining for the past century.
This gradual deterioration of religion in Lendosa has prompted considerable concern in religious organizations, and there has been much debate about methods to reverse the trend. As yet, however, there has been little change in pattern, and many sociologists believe that in twenty-five years, fewer than half the population will profess a religious belief.
Lendosa has a very strong tradition of secularity in its government, legal system, and schools. Initially, Lendosa's secularity was a practical measure, rather than a philosophical one, and came about due to conflict between two religions. Historically, Lendosa was predominantly Veldanist, but gradually, the Cruisian religion began to challenge Veldanism for supremacy. The governing elite, for the most part, remained Veldanist, but eventually Cruisianity gained a slight advantage in numbers among the general population. Increasingly, Cruisians complained of discrimination by Veldanist leaders, and campaigned for the end of government association with religion.
Eventually, faced with riots between Veldanists and Cruisians, the government agreed to secularise itself, making all religions equal before the law. This established state secularity as an official policy, and it has remained so ever since. Ironically, the strongest challenges to secularity were to come from the Cruisian churches, who, having eventually secured their dominance over Veldanism, then wanted the state to reflect that dominance. Similarly, secularity's strongest defenders were the Veldanists, who had opposed secularity when it was first introduced.
Secularity has a number of effects on modern Lendosan politics. Examples of these effects include the rule which prevents any explicitly religious political party from contesting elections.
Map of Religions
This map illustrates religious belief in the Lendosan Confederation. Note that the map only shows the largest religion of any given area, not the only religion - there is a considerable amount of overlap in where religions are found. The three major religions (see below) are spread across the whole country, and so the areas marked on the map below are areas of dominance, not areas of exclusivity. Some beliefs, such as Feloranism (see Other Religions) are not concentrated in any particular area, and thus do not appear on the map at all.
The largest religion present in Lendia is Cruisianity. Around 65% of the religious population (or 42% of the total population) adhere to this faith. The Cruisian religion is strongest in Lendia and weakest in Rioch and Rabel.
The largest Crusian church in Lendosa is the Papaist Church, basing itself around a Pope in Gloria Libertatis. It is officially known in Lendian as the Eclesia dolo Cruzo Sacrado do Cruiso (Church of the Sacred Cross of Cruis), but is almost never referred to as such. Approximately 70% of all Cruisians in Lendosa are associated with the Papaist Church, as are a significant number of Cruisians in other nations. The Papaist Church is highly formal and liturgical, conducting its services in ancient Liliani rather than the local language. The Papaist Church has played a considerable role in Lendosan society at various times in the past, but has lost much of its influence today.
Several smaller Cruisian churches also exist, following doctrines either more traditional or more progressive than the Papaists. The largest such church is the Eclesia dala Verdade (Church of the Truth), an Orthodox group originally established by Gronkian and Ulanovan immigrants. It is followed by the Eclesia Libera (Free Church), a relatively progressive church which is affiliated with the Church of Cruisana. The last significant Cruisian church is the Eclesia do Veneracano Verdadeiro (Church of Truthful Worship), a strongly evangelical and fundamentalist denomination.
Cruisianity was introduced to Lendosa some time ago, but only grew gradually. For much of the initial history of Cruisianity in Lendosa, it was struggling against the indigenous Veldanist faith, and took some considerable time to overtake it. At the height of the religion's success in Lendosa, approximately three quarters of the population was Cruisian, but this percentage has since declined. At present, the number of Lendosan Cruisians is slowly shrinking, although the religion is not presently in danger of being overtaken by any other religion.
Larism is based in the northwest of Lendia, being native to that area, but has adherents from all parts of the country. Approximately 15% of the religious population (around 9.6% of the total population) is Larist. The number of Larists has been roughly static for some time.
Larism is a faith based around ideas of meditation and enlightenment, not around deities. Larism has no lavish temples or churches, only simple monasteries and shrines. The essential premise of Larism is that life is only a complex and long-lasting dream, of sorts. It holds that there is no such thing as consciousness, souls, or even life, and that all we are is mere machines made out of flesh rather than metal - we are no different from, say, a rock. Larism attempts, in essence, to establish that absolutely everything is meaningless. It then adds, however, that this fact doesn't matter. Even though life is an illusion, Larists say, there is no reason why it cannot be a pleasant one. Larists claim that the path to happiness lies in taking a "big picture" view, and realising that none of the problems and anxieties of life are actually important.
There is no central Larist church, with all shrines and monasteries established and managed independently. However, the majority of these organizations belong to the Association of Larist Shrines, a loose coalition of Larist religious groups dedicated to promoting the philosophy.
Veldanism is found throughout Lendosa, but has particular strength in Piolhosa. Around 11% of the religious population (which equates to about 6.9% of the total population) describe themselves as Veldanists. Unlike the other two major religions of Lendosa, Veldanism has been recording a growth in adherents.
The religion itself is essentially a codified and compacted version of the ancient mythology and folk-lore of Lendosa. For many years, Veldanism (or proto-Veldanism) was the dominant religion of Lendosa, with Cruisians forming the largest minority. Eventually, however, Cruisianity overtook Veldanism as the largest faith. With the rise of Larism, Veldanism fell back to third place. Now, however, the religion is slowly regaining its strength, and some Veldanists think that it will eventually triumph over "the foreign faith" (Cruisianity).
Veldanism is a polytheisic religion, with no particular order to its many deities. Lack of cooperation between different Veldanist groups has traditionally been one of the reasons that the religion was unable to defend itself against Cruisianity's approach. The religion has a strong focus on the natural world, and upon the stars. It tends to be a highly individualistic religion, with a relatively loose organizational structure.
Other more minor religions not mentioned previously include the Kha, Ranhi, and Paspalhite faiths. These are the traditional religions of three ethnic minorities in Lendosa. The Kha religion is polytheistic, believing in six deities who control and grant human attributes such as strength and intelligence. The Ranhi religion is not easy to classify, having what is, in essence, one supreme power (possibly a god) that represents itself in many different forms (giving a polytheistic outward face). The Paspalhites believe in only one deity, known as Usha.
The other two significant ethnic minorities in Lendosa no longer follow their own religious beliefs. The Rabeli, who originally had a polytheistic faith indigenous to their islands, are now predominantly Veldanist. The Riochans, who originally had a religion based around ancestor worship, now have a majority who believe no religion at all, although a minority follow one of the three major religions (see above). Rioch's lack of religious belief is offset by a strong following of its traditional folklore (which involves supernatural elements, but which is not strictly a religion) and by its pursuit of various secular philosophical and moral codes.
Also present are a number of very small religions, each with fewer than a quarter of a million adherents (about 0.2% of the population). These include various religions brought by immigrants, but also a number of native Lendosan beliefs. The largest of this second type is called Feloranism, a movement which claims to have over 200,000 followers in all parts of the country. It is based on beliefs commonly associated with the so-called New Age movement.
Occasionally (albeit no more commonly than in other countries), problems are encountered with small or fanatical religious cults. The Lendosan government usually remains uninvolved with religious matters, but religious organizations which are deemed to be dangerous either to society or to their members are strongly opposed.
Of the 131.7 million people in Lendosa:
85.6 million are religious (65% of the population)
46.1 million are not religious (35% of the population)
Of the 85.6 million religious people in Lendosa:
55.6 million are Cruisians (65% of all religious people, and 42.4% of the total population)
12.8 million are Larists (15% of all religious people, and 9.6% of the total population)
9.1 million are Veldanists (11% of all religious people, and 6.9% of the total population)
8.1 million follow other religions (9% of all religious people, and 6.2% of the total population)
Of the 55.6 million Cruisians in Lendosa:
38.9 million follow the Eclesia dolo Cruzo Sacrado do Cruiso (Papaist)
5.6 million follow the Eclesia dala Verdade (Orthodox)
3.3 million follow the Eclesia Libera (Church of Cruis)
2.2 million follow the Eclesia do Veneracano Verdadeiro (Fundamentalist)
5.6 million follow other churches.