Religion in South Sudan

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Religious beliefs in South Sudan tend to mostly include those adhering to traditional religions, although a large Christian population exists, according to the BBC.

Religions followed by the South Sudanese include traditional indigenous religions and Christianity.[1] Scholarly[2][3][4] and U.S. Department of State sources[5] state that a majority of southern Sudanese maintain traditional indigenous (sometimes referred to as Animist) beliefs with those following Christianity in a minority (albeit an influential one), making South Sudan one of the very few countries in the world where most people follow traditional indigenous religion. According to the Federal Research Division of the US Library of Congress: "in the early 1990s possibly no more than 10 percent of southern Sudan's population was Christian".[6] In the early 1990s, official records of Sudan showed the population of Sudan as a whole to hold traditional religions (17%) and Christian belief (8%) (both located mainly in the south, but also at Khartoum), with no obvious reason to prefer traditional religions over Christianity. Apparently, as in other parts of Africa, there is a mixing of traditional and Christian elements, with no clear distinction between the two. How widespread the mixing is, is unknown. However, some news reports claim a Christian majority,[7][8] and the US Episcopal Church claims the existence of large numbers of Anglican adherents from the Episcopal Church of the Sudan: 2 million members in 2005.[9] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Catholic Church is the single largest Christian body in Sudan (2.7 million Catholics), with its strength concentrated in the newly independent South Sudan.[10] Since mid-2000, it has grown to over 3 million.[11]

Speaking at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Juba, South Sudanese President Kiir, a Roman Catholic, stated that South Sudan would be a nation which respects the freedom of religion.[12] Among Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and animist beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "South Sudan profile". BBC News. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Kaufmann, E.P. Rethinking ethnicity: majority groups and dominant minorities. Routledge, 2004, p. 45.
  3. ^ Minahan, J. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z. Greenwood Press, 2002, p. 1786.
  4. ^ Arnold, G. Book Review: Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars. African Journal of Political Science Vol.8 No. 1, 2003, p. 147.
  5. ^ "Background Note: Sudan" U.S. Department of State 9 November 2010 Retrieved 8 December 2010
  6. ^ Sudan: A Country Study Federal Research Division, Library of Congress – Chapter 2, Ethnicity, Regionalism and Ethnicity
  7. ^ "More than 100 dead in South Sudan attack-officials" SABC News 21 September 2009 Retrieved 5 April 2011
  8. ^ Hurd, Emma "Southern Sudan Votes To Split From North" Sky News 8 February 2011 Retrieved 5 April 2011
  9. ^ "How many Anglicans are there in the Anglican Church in North America?"
  10. ^ World Christian Encyclopedia, eds, David Barrett, George Kurian, and Todd Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 700
  11. ^ Ibid., 699.
  12. ^ "South Sudan To Respect Freedom Of Religion Says GOSS President | Sudan Radio Service". 21 February 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Christianity, in A Country Study: Sudan, U.S. Library of Congress.