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Grinnell College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Mongolia: Culture and Development


Mongolia is a rapidly globalizing nation that became both democratic and capitalistic after their 1990 revolution. In its history Mongolia has always had a strong religious influence coming mainly from Buddhism, which prevailed throughout Mongolia before the 70-year long socialist period that preceded the democratic revolution. The socialist period destroyed much of the traditional religion in Mongolia and left a spiritual and political vacuum in Mongolia after 1990. Economic hardships and religious tolerance brought forth numerous Christian religious groups and social organization that have profoundly affected the new religious environment in Mongolia, while Buddhism struggled to rebuild and retain a position of dominance in the religious environment. Western beliefs and the means by which they are spread have caused Buddhist to rethink how they present the traditional religion of Mongolia to a new Mongolian society that is growing in a highly globalized world. Christianity now has a foothold in Mongolia and will not be leaving any time soon, and Buddhism must change to compete in a new religious environment born of western culture and ideals. Conflict and controversy amongst religious groups and the government have been the marker of Christianity’s rise in the past 18 years, but the governments contradictory policies and the Mongolian population’s rapidly changing thoughts on religion, as well as politics and social society, are evidence that Mongolia’s religious environment will never be the same as it once was and that in the future Mongolia’s religious make-up will be permanently altered by Christianity.


Anthropology | Religion | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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