Religion in New Mexico is characterized by the same religious freedoms as the United States of America. Regardless of faith, or non-faith, most New Mexicans have active roles in maintaining, documenting, and celebrating the religious and spiritual communities within the State. A wide variety of religious faiths have flourished in New Mexico, the majority of which are of Christian origin.
The majority of Americans, and therefore New Mexicans, are unique among developed nations in their acceptance and encouragement of religious identity. Including the proud celebration of one’s faith, numerous religious broadcasters and publishers from all faiths existing within New Mexico.
Prior to the Spanish arrival, multiple Native American religious traditions were prominent throughout the area. Much to the chagrin of the Spanish Inquisition, the venerable religions of the ancient Pueblo and the rest of the Oasisamerica groups were commonplace. The Pueblo religious ceremonies were extremely peaceful in nature, and Spanish colonists of the Santa Fe De Nuevo Mexico culture attempted to get the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church to understand the peaceful nature of the Pueblos. But, the representatives of the crown didn’t heed the persuasions of the settlers, and they were heavy handed in the persecution of the Pueblos with the encomienda, forced trade, legal system. The Pueblo eventually rose up under the leadership of Popé, largely to fight religious persecution and the lack of legal representation, in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Throughout the multiple skirmishes during this war, the Pueblo allowed the majority of settlers to flee, as the Pueblo saw them as family and were mainly targeting people associated with the leadership in Europe. During the skirmishes, some 400 were killed on the side of the Spanish , however the losses on the side of the Pueblo are unknown. After the Spanish left, the crown made multiple attempts to regain New Mexico, but it wasn’t successful until the Spanish colonists banded together in the Bloodless Reconquest under Diego de Vargas and Bartolomé de Ojeda of the Zia Pueblo. The Pueblos initially rejected Spanish reconquest, but they eventually agreed to it after being promised clemency and protection, as well as the removal of the encomienda system; though the Pueblo had to continue to fight for their religious freedoms and proper representation for years to come.
The Pueblo eventually got their rights to religious freedoms, and they also developed a unique form of Catholicism, called Pueblo Catholicism. Which merged aspects of the Pueblo religion with Catholic beliefs and traditions. The Pueblo religion continued to be practiced as well, and each Pueblo has its own distinct history and understanding of the Pueblo religion.
Because of New Mexico’s religious history numerous landmarks, even cities and towns, bear religious names. Numerous landmarks, such as streets, towns, etc. are named after religious symbolism Angel Fire, Belen, Kiva, Kachina, Tawa, and Sanotsee. Several great examples of cities and towns with religious names include; Santa Fe (Holy Faith), Las Cruces (The Crosses), and Belen (Bethlehem). Even religious buildings, iconography, and symbolism has become representative of the State, the primary example being the Zía Pueblo sun symbol, which is featured on both the Flag of New Mexico as well as the shape of the State Capitol, though there are other examples; old Spanish churches such as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, San Felipe de Neri Parish, and the Pueblo Missions are preserved for cultural and historical significance, and many are still in regular use as places of worship. Depictions of religious iconography are seen usually in connection with places, examples being a Nativity Scene in Belen or even Tawa’s visage being depicted in numerous situations throughout the state.
The majority of Christians in New Mexico are Catholic, including traditional Catholicism and syncretic Pueblo-Catholicism. there is however also a large amount of Protestant Christian denominations represented, such as, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian-Reformed, Episcopalianism/Anglicanism, Seventh-Day Adventist, and the Mormon faith of Latter-day Saints. This large amount of Christians in the state of course has led to distinctive form of New Mexico folk Christianity, often referred to as Pueblo Christianity, New Mexican Christianity, and Hispano Christianity.
Additionally, in order of adherents, there are many members of Judaism, Native American religions, Buddhism, Islam, Bahá’í, and Hindu faiths. Another fifth of New Mexicans are unaffiliated with any religion or faith.