Sulu Archipelago, animists, Spanish forces, Christian population, Christian denominations
The Philippines has the only predominantly Christian population in Asia, reflecting Spainís colonization of the islands in the 16th century. About 94 percent of the people are Christians, about 5 percent are Muslims, and the remainder are Buddhists, animists, or nonbelievers.
About 84 percent of all Filipinos are Roman Catholic. Another 10 percent belong to other Christian denominations, most notably the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), an independent Catholic church whose adherents are known as Aglipayans. Founded by Filipino priest Gregorio Aglipay and formally organized in 1902, this church broke from Romeís authority as part of the Filipino struggle for clerical equity. Smaller groups of nearly every Christian denomination also exist, notably Protestants and revivalist groups. Another Filipino-founded church, the evangelical Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ), was founded in 1914 and began to attract a significant membership after World War II.
The Muslim population of the Philippines lives mostly in the southern islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. Islam predated Christianity in the region, spreading to the Sulu Archipelago in the 14th century and Mindanao in the 15th century. Islam had some adherents as far north as Manila by the time the Spanish arrived. After 1571, when Spanish forces defeated the Muslim ruler of Manila, Muslims were largely confined to the south.
Spanish colonial authority depended on locally based Catholic religious orders to help maintain political control, and this interdependency made the church a powerful institution in the islands. Although there is an official separation of church and state in the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Church continues to have an influential role in political life.
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