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Religion in Uganda

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Religion in Uganda

Religious affiliation in Uganda[1]
Affiliation 1991 census 2002 census
Christian 85.4% 85.2%
Catholic 44.5% 41.9%
Church of Uganda (Anglican) 39.2% 35.9%
Pentecostal -[note 1] 4.6%
Seventh-day Adventist 1.1% 1.5%
Orthodox Christian <0.1% 0.1%
Other Christian 0.6% 1.2%[note 2]
Muslim 10.5% 12.1%
Traditional - 1.0%
Bahá'í Faith -[note 1] 0.1%
None -[note 1] 0.9%
Other non-Christian 4.0% 0.7%[note 3]
  1. ^ a b c The 1991 census did not have separate categories for "None" and "Pentecostal" so the 1991 category of "Other Christian" includes "Pentecostal" and the 1991 category "Other non-Christian" includes "Bahá'í Faith" and "None".
  2. ^ If Pentecostals are merged in to allow better comparison with the 1991 figure for "Other Christians", it is 5.8%.
  3. ^ If Bahá'í and None are merged in to allow better comparison with the 1991 figure for "Other non-Christians", it is 1.7%
The Uganda National Mosque is amongst the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa

Uganda is religiously diverse nation with Christianity and Islam being the most widely professed religions. According to 2002 census, 85.4% of the population is Christian, while 12.1% of the population adheres to Islam (mainly Sunni). The Northern and West Nile regions are dominated by Roman Catholics and Iganga District in the east of Uganda has the highest percentage of Muslims.[2]

Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and Christmas are recognized national holidays.[2]

The National Census of October 2002 resulted in the clearest and most detailed information yet gathered on the religious composition of Uganda.


  • Government policy 1
  • History 2
  • Christianity 3
  • Islam 4
  • Indigenous beliefs 5
  • Interfaith 6
  • Hinduism 7
  • Judaism 8
  • Bahá'í Faith 9
  • No religion 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12

Government policy

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Uganda Constitution but religions are expected to be registered with the government and some religions considered cults are restricted. The Catholic Church, the Church of Uganda, Orthodox Church, and the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) are registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act and most other religious groups are registered yearly as Non-Government Organizations.[2]


Muslim traders and Christian missionaries first arrived in the 1860s, attempting to convert the Ugandan king.


Church in Entebbe, Uganda

According to the National Census of October 2002, Christians of all denominations made up 85.1% of Uganda's population.[1] The Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (41.9% of the total population), which means Uganda is roughly tied with Lesotho as the most Catholic country in English-speaking Africa. The largest Protestant church is the Anglican Church of Uganda, a part of the worldwide Anglican communion, at 35.9%. There are numerous Pentecostal churches (4.6%), while 1.0% were grouped under the category "Other Christians".[1]

Jehovah's Witnesses operate in Uganda under the name International Bible Students Association and are working in a total of ten languages, including Swahili and Luganda. Followers of William M. Branham and Branhamism claim numbers in the tens of thousands, thanks in large part to translation and distribution efforts by Voice of God Recordings.[3]

The Presbyterian Church in Uganda has about 100-200 congregations, the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Uganda was a result in a split in the Presbyterian church. Both are growing rapidly.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 10,000 members in 22 congregations in Uganda. They also have 2 family history centers in Uganda.[4]

The Society of Friends has two yearly meetings, Uganda Yearly Meeting, part of Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church and about 3,000 members between the two in 2001.[5]


Kibuli mosque in Kampala, Uganda

According to the National Census 2002, 12.1% of Ugandans adhere to Islam.[1] Most Muslims are Sunni,[2] with a large minority of Ahmadis.[6] The Iganga District in the east of Uganda has the highest percentage of Muslims.[2]

Indigenous beliefs

About 1% of Uganda's population follow traditional religions only; however, more practice traditional religious practices along with other religions such as Christianity or Islam.[2] One survey in 2010 showed that about 27% of Ugandans believe that sacrifices to ancestors or spirits can protect them from harm.[7]


Uganda has received media attention for interfaith efforts in Mbale. Founded by JJ Keki, the Mirembe Kawomera (Delicious Peace) Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative brings together Muslim, Jewish, and Christian coffee farmers. Members of the cooperative use music to spread their message of peace. The Smithsonian Folkways album "Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music & Interfaith Harmony in Uganda" features songs from members of the cooperative about their interfaith message. [8]


Only 0.7% of Uganda's population are classified as 'Other Non-Christians,' including Hindus. The numbers were probably larger before the expulsion of most Ugandans of Asian descent in 1972 (see Expulsion of Asians from Uganda).


Judaism is also practiced in Uganda by a small number of native Ugandans known to most people as the Abayudaya. However, due to their small population size, estimated as of 2013 at 2,000, many Ugandans are not aware of this Jewish presence. Formerly numbering as many as 3,000 individuals, the community drastically shrank in size to 300 when Idi Amin came to power and outlawed Judaism, destroying all the synagogues in the country. Since then, the community has grown in size and strength, constructing five synagogues in various communities and establishing links to Jews worldwide. They operate several schools which enroll Muslim, Jewish and Christian students.

Besides the Abayudaya there are an estimated 100 (un-organized) expatriate Jews of Israeli, South African and American origin residing in Uganda, mainly in Kampala.

Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'í House of Worship, Kampala, Uganda
The Bahá'í Faith in Uganda started to grow in 1951 and in four years time there were 500 Bahá'ís in 80 localities, including 13 Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies, representing 30 tribes, and had dispatched 9 pioneers to other African locations.[9] Following the reign of Idi Amin when the Bahá'í Faith was banned and the murder of Bahá'í Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga and his family,[10] the community continues to grow though estimates of the population range widely from 19,000 to 105,000 and the community's involvements have included diverse efforts to promote the welfare of the Ugandan people. One of only seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship in the World, known as Mother Temple of Africa, is located on the outskirts of Kampala.

No religion

Only 0.9% of Ugandans claim no religion. The Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO) is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and has been registered since 1996.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census - Main Report" (PDF). Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f United States Department of State (2009-10-26). "Uganda". International Religious Freedom Report 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Facts and Statistics", Uganda Newsroom (LDS Church), January 1, 2012, retrieved 2013-03-09 
  5. ^ Zarembka, David (2001). "Friends Peace Teams: African Great Lakes Initiative". 
  6. ^ "The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity". Pew Forum on Religious & Public life. August 9, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (2010-04-15). ""Executive Summary"". "Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa". The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Hassall, Graham (2003-08-26). "References to Africa in the Bahá'í Writings". Asian/Pacific Collection. Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  10. ^ Francis, N. Richard (1998). Bahá'í Faith Website of Reno, Nevada 
  11. ^
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