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Most Salvadoran Catholics believe in the devil, heaven and hell

  • A roadside memorial near La Paz, El Salvador. Thousands of similar memorials dot the roads in the country. Photo credit: Martin Kelly
  • A roadside memorial near La Paz, El Salvador. Thousands of similar memorials dot the roads in the country. Photo credit: Martin Kelly
  • A roadside memorial near La Paz, El Salvador. Thousands of similar memorials dot the roads in the country. Photo credit: Martin Kelly
  • Urban cemeteries can be rather clean and grassy, but this rural cemetery located in a very poor neighborhood near El Carmen, El Salvador was particularly bright and decorated, and included a great deal of tinsel.

Death is not hidden away in Salvadoran culture. Roadside crosses that mark places of death are ubiquitous, remembrances of Jesus passion are important, and rural cemeteries are decorated to call attention to themselves, not to be hidden from sight.  

In the World Values Survey of 1999, Salvadorans indicated the following about life after death:

  All Salvadorans Roman Catholics “Catholic but don’t follow the rules”
Believe in the Devil 76.1% 78.7% 63.1%
Believe in Hell 78.2% 81.9% 65.5%
Believe in Heaven 88.6% 92.2% 80.9%
Believe in Life after Death 86.9% 90.7% 76.6%

In Izalco, in the west of El Salvador, spiritualists are apparently common among Catholics and other Salvadorans. Few hang out signs, because it is frowned upon by the Church, but people indicated that “everyone knows who to go to,” and that the spiritualists can help them contact their dead relatives. 

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