Religion in Mexico

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Religion in Mexico (2014) [1]

  Catholicism (81%)
  Protestantism (9%)
  Unaffiliated (7%)
  Other (4%)

Imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion into church matters. The government does not provide financial contributions to the church, nor does the church participate in public education. However, Christmas is a national holiday and every year during Easter and Christmas all schools in Mexico, public and private, send their students on vacation.

In 1992, Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the religions, including granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country.[2] Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now they cannot be elected to public office.

Catholicism is the dominant religion in Mexico, with about 82.7% of the population as of 2010. In recent decades the number of Catholics has been declining, due to the growth of other Christian denominations (especially various Protestant churches and Mormonism), which now constitute 9.7% of the population, and non-Christian religions. Despite this, conversion to non-Catholic denominations has been considerably slower than in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. An estimated 2 to 5 million Mexicans (~2% to ~4.5%) adhere to the Santa Muerte Religion, though most of them continue to declare themselves as members of the Catholic Church.[3] Movements of return and revival of the indigenous Mesoamerican religions (Mexicayotl, Toltecayotl) have also appeared in recent decades.[4][5] Islam and Buddhism have both made limited inroads, through immigration and conversion.

Abrahamic religions[edit]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Mexico begins with visits of Bahá'ís before 1916.[6] In 1919 letters from the head of the religion, `Abdu'l-Bahá, were published mentioning Mexico as one of the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to.[7] Following further pioneers moving there and making contacts the first Mexican to join the religion was in 1937, followed quickly by the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of all Latin America being elected in 1938.[6][8] With continued growth the National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961.[8][9] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated almost 38,000 Bahá'ís in 2005.[10]



Catholic church of Regina Coeli in Mexico City.

Roman Catholics are 82.7%[11] of the total population,[12] down from 96% in 1970.[13] The number of Mexican Catholics has fallen by 5% in the first decade of the 21st century and in the south-east Catholics make up less than two-thirds of the population.[13] In absolute terms, Mexico has the world's second largest number of Catholics, surpassed only by Brazil.[14]

Mexicans are at least nominally Catholic, some combine or syncretize Catholic practices with native traditions. In the Yucatán Peninsula, some Mayan people still practice the traditional beliefs of their ancestors, without being syncretized with Christianity; the same happens with the Wixarika people of Jalisco and Nayarit.


About 11% of the population (6,160,000 people over the age of 5, according to the 2000 census, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Mormons) are Protestant,[11] of whom Pentecostals and Charismatics (called Neo-Pentecostals in the census), are the largest group. The Anglican Communion is represented by the Anglican Church of Mexico.

Protestantism is strongest where the Catholic Church and the Mexican state have little presence,[13] and accounts for over 10% of the population in the four states that border heavily-Protestant Guatemala: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco. It is also sizable in the Mexican states that border the U.S. State of Texas.

Protestantism is also on the rise as it offers a less legalistic and hierarchical version of Christianity.[15]


There are some Mexicans practicing Eastern Orthodoxy in Mexico, mainly foreign-born people.[citation needed]

Seventh-day Adventist[edit]

There are also a number of Seventh-day Adventists (488,946 people).[11]

Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

The 2000 national census counted more than one million Jehovah's Witnesses.[11] According to the Jehovah's Witnesses official figures for 2014 there were over 800,000 members involved in preaching.[16]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

The first LDS missionaries in Mexico arrived in 1875 (although the original Mormons came to Mexico in the 1840s in Utah, when it was still a Mexican territory). In 1885, 400 Mormon colonists moved to Mexico. The LDS Church claims over a million members in Mexico. June 29, 1993, the Mexican government formally registered the LDS Church. This allowed the church to own property in Mexico. As of year-end 2006, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) reported 1,082,427 members, 207 stakes, 1,434 wards, 495 branches, and 12 temples in Mexico.[17] However, according to the 2000 census only 0.25% of the population identified as members, amounting to approximately 267,500.[18]

La Luz del Mundo[edit]

La Luz del Mundo is a Charismatic Christian denomination with international headquarters in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Its flagship church in Guadalajara is said to be the largest non-Catholic house of worship in Latin America[citation needed].


Main article: Islam in Mexico

Islam is mainly practiced by members of the Arab, Turkish, and other expatriate communities, though there is a very small number of the indigenous population in Chiapas that practices Islam.


Execution of Mariana de Carabajal (converted Jew), Mexico City, 1601

The presence of Jews in Mexico dates back to 1521, when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos. According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now more than 67,000 Mexican Jews, the near totality of which (around 95%) live in the Greater Mexico City area.[11]


Main article: Buddhism in Mexico

Approximately 108,701 Buddhists are counted in Mexico. Also one of six Tibet Houses in the world – Casa Tibet México – is located in Mexico City. It is used by the Dalai Lama and other leaders of Tibetan Buddhism to preserve and share Tibetan culture and spirituality. Alejandro Jodorowsky has stated that he discovered Zen Buddhism in the 1960s while in Mexico.[19][20] There are also two institutions from Theravada Buddhism tradition, the Theravada Buddhist Monastery [3] and the Vipassana House of Meditation.[4] There are at least 30 Buddhist groups in Mexico.[5]


Main article: Irreligion in Mexico

Although the demographics of atheism and irreligion in Mexico is hard to measure because many atheists are officially counted as Catholic, almost three million people in the 2000 National Census reported having no religion.[11] Recent surveys have shown that only around 3% of Catholics attend church daily and 44% attend church at least once a week,[21] and, according to INEGI, the number of atheists grows annually by 5.2%, while the number of Catholics grows by 1.7%.[22][23]

Census Information[edit]

Religion according to the Census (2010)[24]
Anabaptist/Mennonites[table 1]10,7530.01
Baptist[table 1]252,8740.23
Church of the Nazarene[table 1]40,2250.04
Methodist[table 1]25,3700.02
Presbyterian[table 1]437,6900.39
Other historic Protestant[table 1]53.8320.05
Pentecostal[table 2]1,782,0211.59
Other Christian Evangelical[table 2]5,783,4425.15
Seventh_day Adventist[table 3]661,8780.59
Mormons[table 3]314,9320.28
Jehovah's Witnesses[table 3]1,561,0861.39
Eastern religions18,1850.02
Islam3,760< 0.01
Native religions27,8390.02
Other religions19,6360.02
No religion5,262,5464.68
not specified3,052,5092.72
  1. ^ a b c d e f The 2010 census groups Anabaptists, Baptists, Church of the Nazarene, Methodist, Presbyterian as historic Protestant (Protestante histórica o reformada) with a total number of 820,744 (0.73%).
  2. ^ a b The 2010 census groups Pentecostal with Other Christian Evangelical (Pentecostal/Cristiana/Evangélica) for a total number of 7,565,463 (6.73%).
  3. ^ a b c The 2010 census groups Seventh day Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses together (Bíblica diferente de Evangélica) with a total of 2,537,896 (2.26%).

Population in terms of religion by state (2000)
StateRoman CatholicProtestant and EvangelicalOther ChristianJewishOtherNoneNot specified
Baja California81.4%7.9%2.7%<0.1%0.2%6.2%1.6%
Baja California Sur89.0%4.0%1.9%<0.1%0.2%3.6%0.1%
Federal District90.5%3.6%1.3%0.2%0.8%2.9%0.7%
Nuevo León87.9%6.2%2.0%<0.1%0.1%2.8%0.9%
Quintana Roo73.2%11.2%4.6%<0.1%0.2%9.6%1.1%
San Luis Potosí92.0%4.6%1.0%<0.1%0.2%1.5%0.7%
Mexico total87.99%5.20%2.07%0.05%0.31%3.52%0.86%


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Mexico". International Religious Report. U.S. Department of State. 2003. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  3. ^ NBC 12 Investigates: The occult of Santa Muerte
  4. ^ Yolotl González Torres. The Revival of Mexican Religions: The Impact of Nativism. Numen. Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 1-31
  5. ^ Zotero Citlalcoatl. AMOXTLI YAOXOCHIMEH.
  6. ^ a b Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. West Linn, OR: M L VanOrman Enterprises. 
  7. ^ Abbas, `Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, trans. and comments. 
  8. ^ a b "Comunidad Bahá’í de México". National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Mexico. 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  9. ^ Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  10. ^ "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Religion" (PDF). Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2000. INEGI. 2000. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  12. ^ "Church attendance". World Values Survey. 1997. 
  13. ^ a b c “Religion in Mexico: Where angels fear to tread: Evangelicals are swooping on long-ignored regions”, The Economist, dated 24 March 2012.
  14. ^ "The Largest Catholic Communities". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  15. ^ "Religion in Mexico: Staying alive, Mexicans are increasingly turning away from the Catholic church". The Economist (Mexico City). 25 July 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  16. ^ 2015 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watch Tower Society. p. 182. 
  17. ^ LDS Newsroom (Statistical Information)[1], see also The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership statistics#North America
  18. ^ "Mexico". International Religious Report. U.S. Department of State. 2003. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  19. ^ Jodorowsky, Alejandro. The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky The Creator of El Topo, Rochester, Vermont: (Park Street Press, 2005)
  20. ^ Thlate 1960s.City Paper - Jodorowsky
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ Aciprensa
  23. ^ Catholic News Agency
  24. ^ Panorama de las religiones en México 2010. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. p. 3. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]