The main religious cults Roma are part of are Christianity and Islam, but a big majority chose to convert to different neo-protestant ones. Thus, the Romas transisioned to cults, such as „The Church of The Burning Stake” and “Hope for Gabori”.

From the 1600s, Roma were often accused of criminality, theft and witchcraft. These accusations led to their marginalisation and prevented them from staying in one place for too long. They were denied the right to own a property and to take part in various religious ceremonies. Thus, the Roma are known as communities of migrant peoples who were not integrated in any social and religious system.

However, this community is highly adaptable and tends to adopt the religion of the place they live in, forming its traditions and moral and ethical standards where it settles. Some researchers argue that this adaptability has been developed over time as a self-defence practice jn order to avoid conflicts with native populations.

The main religious faiths to which Roma belong are Christianity and Islam, but whatever their beliefs, they have always paid particular attention to protection from evil spirits.

Some Roma, who believe in life after death, try to avoid meeting the deceased by burning all their belongings, including their house. Other communities believe that the soul reincarnates three times on earth, once every 500 years. According to some Roma groups in Serbia, a man will live the same life after death indefinitely. Others practice Shaktism, a belief based on the worship of female religious imagery. When the Roma pray to the Christian God, they do it through the spirit of Virgin Mary or St. Anne’s.

According to the predominant religion in Romania, the majority of the Roma community are Christian Orthodox and their customs are closely conditioned by this religion. In their house, there is a corner with many religious icons and the rituals of baptism and marriage in church are strictly followed.

In recent years, many of them have converted to various neo-Protestant cults. The phenomenon of conversion of the Roma population to the Penticostal religion spread after the 1970s. In a period marked by an indifference to traditional religion, the Pentecostal church emerged and initially spread among poor communities. Among the Roma, the shift to Pentecostalism led to an increase in authority, prestige and improved the social status of women.

In the 1990s, the brothers from the village of Toflea, Galați county, were driven by need to seek their way across Romania.  Wherever they went, they relocated with their whole family, even with their neighbours. Thus, more than 400 people gathered and settled in Florești, Cluj county.

They built Penticostal “Burning Stake” churches, a Protestant cult that took the name of an Orthodox movement banned in Romania during Communism because there was a suspected Legionary conspiracy within the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Their community is descended from Jewish stock and have customs and traditions from Scripture.

There are currently 28 „Burning Stake” Churches in the country and abroad. They have never asked for financial help from the authorities. The church operates with a choir and they want to develop this segment to involve young people. They also aim to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Another case of conversion to neo-Protestantism operates under the name of “Hope for the Gabori”, a group of Seventh-day Adventist Christians in Târgu Mureș. During the pandemic, the Gabor community was badly affected and while many people were hospitalised, a group of 12 people decided to send them spiritual messages on social media. One young man gathered these people together and organised a group that met every evening for Bible study and prayer. Not before long, the group grew into a small community of believers, made up of „Gabori” from all over the world.

The Hope for the Gabori group has brought a radical change in the lives of many in the Gabori community, changes on a personal, social and spiritual level.

In conclusion, the Roma are a mysterious people who are extremely open to spirituality, with a culture rooted in a distant past and a history surrounded by prejudice.

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