IN A COUNTRY THAT once officially outlawed God, religion is back — but in a different way than before the long experiment in godlessness. Many Albanians have resumed spiritual practices with a faith strengthened by the years of suppression. At the same time, new practices and beliefs are being planted by a wave of foreign missionaries and money, making this tiny Adriatic country a remarkable example of the globalization of religion. . . .

In cities across this mountainous country, new houses of worship gleam alongside dreary Soviet-style apartment blocks like shiny gems, nearly all built with money from individuals and organizations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, the United States, Greece, Italy, and a long list of other nations....

[ilija] Kavaja delights in bringing his daughter, Ilvana, 12, with him [to a Greek Orthodox church], grateful for the tens of millions of dollars from abroad that have poured into this country roughly the size of Maryland to give him and others new places to worship. Standing on the church steps, wearing a white scarf and white stockings, Ilvana listened to her father recalling an attempt to wipe out religion so thorough that even a prayer at a burial was forbidden. She said she couldn't imagine that now. "It makes me feel safe when I pray," she said.

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LIVE— to discover your real worth
May 7, 2007

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