How many religions are there in South Africa? With a constitution guaranteeing the Freedom of Worship, there are various religions in South Africa, with Christianity taking on the most significant percentage. Most of the religions in the country are represented in the ethnic and regional diversities of the citizens.
What are the 4 main religions in South Africa? With the end of the apartheid era, religion, protection, and freedom in the nation facilitated the emergence of different religions in South Africa. Without further ado, let us explore some of the notable religions in South Africa and their symbols.
Different religions in South Africa
According to the population census held in 2001, approximately 80% of the population of South Africa are Christians, while 15% of the citizens claim not to be affiliated to any religion (note that the 2011 census did not include religion-related questions). The other prevalent religions in SA include Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, with a minority regarding themselves as traditionalists.
Christianity is the most dominant religion in South Africa in both rural and urban centres. The belief was first introduced by the Dutch and British during the apartheid era. Besides, blacks, whites, and coloured South Africans practice the Christian faith. Christians in the country are further segmented into various denominations as outlined below.
a) Protestant Christians
Protestantism is the largest Christian denomination, with approximately 36% of South Africans practicing the faith. However, the belief system is less common in the black community. This religious denomination was first introduced in 1652 by settlers and gained massive popularity to date. Here are some renowned protestant Christians.
- Zion Christian Faith
The Zion Christian Church is regarded as the religion of the blacks in South Africa. The belief system is independent and indigenous, comprising of 23.7% of the black community and nearly 11.1% of the entire population in the nation. The Zion Christian faith was brought to SA by Engenas Lekganyane in 1916.
- Anglican Christian
During the early 17th century, British colonialists began settling in South Africa, bringing with them the Church of England. Over time, various individuals subscribed to this religion owing to its liberated reforms that permitted the ordination of women and homosexuals, something not allowed by their religious counterparts. Anglicans make up 3.8% of protestant Christians in South Africa.
- The Reformed Church
This Christian denomination, including the Dutch Reformed Church, is similar to the Anglican faith, with over 6.7% of the total population embracing the faith. The belief system was initiated when some church members in Rustenburg declined to sing hymns from the hymn book claiming that it was blasphemous. Due to that, they were exiled from the church, forming a New Dutch Reformed Church. Today, the Dutch Reformed Church is among the South African religions that support gayism.
The Pentecostal/Charismatic and Methodist protestants make up 8.2% and 6.8% respectively.
b) Roman Catholic Christian
This is the main Catholic church in the country, with more than 7.1% of the citizens following the belief system. Roman Catholicism is predominant among the Sotho, Xhosa, and Zulu tribes.
2. Islam in South Africa
Islam is a minor religion in South Africa. It was introduced by the Cape Malay slaves of the Dutch masters. The first Muslims in the country are believed to be slaves, political exiles, political prisoners, and economic immigrants from Pakistan and India. Today, approximately 1.5% of the total population in SA practice the Islamic faith.
3. Hinduism in South Africa
The indentured labourers first introduced the Hindu religion from the Indian subcontinent. Today, the religion is practiced all over the country but mostly in KwaZulu-Natal. According to the 2001 census, around 1.1% of the country's citizens claim to practice Hindusim. This number is a drop from the 1.4% that embraced the faith in the 1996 census.
Judaism emerged when Jewish astronomers and cartographers landed in South Africa. Nevertheless, it was during the 1820s that Jewish settlers began entering and settling in large numbers in the country. Judaism is practiced by about 0.2% of the population.
5. African Traditional Religions
At the time when colonialists were introducing Christianity during the apartheid period, there was a mass execution of the practitioners of the traditional African religions. This is because the Europeans thought that Africans did not have true faith and so it was their role to abolish the traditional belief system. However, things changed with a new constitution in place that favours African religions, with 0.3% of the population believing in this faith.
Clearly, the rainbow country supports Christianity as the chief belief system. However, the government endorses and protects other belief systems as well, and it is evident that Freedom of Worship in South Africa is freely exercised. Which religion do you follow? Share with us in the comment section below.