BACKGROUND: This former German and British colony in East Africa has a history of Christianity and today has many Protestant churches. The government protects Christians from persecution. Semi-autonomous Zanzibar Island has a different culture and history along with a distinct Arab influence.
MAJOR RELIGIONS:The population is about half Christian and half Muslim, but only about 8 percent of the Christian population attends church. Zanzibar and Mafia Island are 99 percent Muslim.
Christians are persecuted by community members in Muslim-majority areas, such as the eastern coast, the islands and far western areas. Pastors and evangelists who reach out to traditional tribal groups, such as the Maasai, also experience persecution. Radical groups from Somalia also operate in coastal areas.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN TANZANIA:
Christians can freely practice their faith but are oppressed and harassed in predominantly Muslim areas. Persecution ranges from family pressure to violent threats to the burning of churches and homes. There has been a concerted effort to Islamize Tanzania. In Zanzibar, Christians face death threat and extreme harassment. On the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, the local government is trying to close churches and force pastors to leave.
ACCESS TO BIBLES:Bibles are readily available but are too expensive for many Christians.
VOM WORK: VOM supports Christians who are attacked or rejected because of their faith and trains pastors in areas of high persecution. We also provide Bibles to believers.