Religion in Mexico

Religion in Mexico (2010 census)[1]
Roman Catholicism
Other Christian
Other Religion
No religion

Catholic Christianity is the dominant religion in Mexico, representing about 83% of the total 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 10% of the population, and non-Christian religions. Conversion to non-Catholic denominations has been considerably slower than in Central America, and central Mexico remains one of the most Catholic areas in the world.

Mexico is a secular country and has allowed freedom of religion since the mid-19th century. Traditional Protestant denominations and the open practice of Judaism established themselves in the country during that era. Modern growth has been seen in Evangelical Protestantism, Mormonism and in folk religions, such as Mexicayotl.[2][3] Buddhism and Islam have both made limited inroads through immigration and conversion.

Religion and the state

The Mexican Constitution of 1917 imposed limitations on the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico and sometimes codified state intrusion into religious matters. The government does not provide financial contributions to the religious institutions, nor does the Roman Catholic Church participate in public education. 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 a major reversal of the Mexican state's restrictions on religion, the constitution was amended in 1992 lifting 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.[4] Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now they cannot be elected to public office.

Abrahamic religions


Historically the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico is the oldest established church, established in the early sixteenth century. At independence, the Roman Catholic Church kept its status as the only permissible church in Mexico. In the mid-nineteenth century, Mexican liberals curtailed the exclusive standing of the church, and Protestant missionaries, mainly from the United States, legally evangelized in Mexico. Other Christian denominations have grown in Mexico, dating from the twentieth century. With the growth of immigration from the Middle East, Eastern Catholic churches were established. Evangelical Protestant churches have expanded their reach significantly from the late twentieth century.

Roman Catholicism

Roman Catholics are 82.7%[5] of the total population,[6] down from 96% in 1970.[7] 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.[7] In absolute terms, Mexico has the world's second largest number of Catholics, surpassed only by Brazil.[8]

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.

There are major festivities in Mexico celebrating the Christian holidays of Epiphany (6 January) (Día de los Reyes Magos), All Saints' day (1 November), All Souls' day or Day of the Dead (2 November)(Día de los fieles difuntos), and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12 December). These are not public holidays in Mexico. Christmas is celebrated as a religious and public holiday.

Eastern Catholicism in Mexico

There are also separate jurisdictions for specific Eastern particular churches within the Catholic Church in Mexico:


About 11% of the population (6,160,000 people over the age of 5, according to the 2000 census, including Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who are usually considered to be non-Protestant and part of Restorationism or individual Christian branches) are Protestant,[5] 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,[7] 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.[9]


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

Seventh-day Adventist

There are also a number of Seventh-day Adventists (488,946 people).[5]

Jehovah's Witnesses

The 2000 national census counted more than one million Jehovah's Witnesses.[5] According to the Jehovah's Witnesses official figures for 2014 there were over 800,000 members involved in preaching.[10]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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. In 1993 the Mexican government formally registered the LDS Church. This allowed the church to own property in Mexico.

The 2010 Census reported 314,932 Mormons.[11] As of 2015, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) claims 1,368,475 members, 231 stakes, 1,998 congregations, and 12 temples in Mexico.[12]

La Luz del Mundo

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.


The Pew Research Center estimated that there were 111,000 Muslims in Mexico in 2010.[13] Islam is mainly practiced by Lebanese Mexicans and other Arab Mexicans, with only a few non-Arab Mexicans.[14] There are also a growing population of Muslims among indigenous populations in Chiapas.[15][16]


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.[5]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith in Mexico begins with visits of Bahá'ís before 1916.[17] 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.[18] 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.[17][19]

With continued growth the National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961.[19][20] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated almost 38,000 Bahá'ís in 2005.[21]


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.[22][23]

There are also two institutions from Theravada Buddhism tradition, the Theravada Buddhist Monastery and the Vipassana House of Meditation. There are at least 30 Buddhist groups 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.[5]

Recent surveys have shown that around 3% of Catholics attend church daily and 44% attend church at least once a week,[24] and, according to INEGI, the number of atheists grows annually by 5.2%, while the number of Catholics grows by 1.7%.[25][26]

Census information

Religion according to the Census (2010)[11]
Religion Numbers Percent
Catholic 92,924,489 82.72
Anabaptist/Mennonites[table 1] 10,753 0.01
Baptist[table 1] 252,874 0.23
Church of the Nazarene[table 1] 40,225 0.04
Methodist[table 1] 25,370 0.02
Presbyterian[table 1] 437,690 0.39
Other historic Protestant[table 1] 53.832 0.05
Pentecostal[table 2] 1,782,021 1.59
Other Christian Evangelical[table 2] 5,783,442 5.15
Seventh day Adventist[table 3] 661,878 0.59
Mormons[table 3] 314,932 0.28
Jehovah's Witnesses[table 3] 1,561,086 1.39
Eastern religions 18,185 0.02
Judaism 67,476 0.06
Islam 3,760 < 0.01
Native religions 27,839 0.02
Spiritualism 35,995 0.03
Other religions 19,636 0.02
No religion 5,262,546 4.68
Not specified 3,052,509 2.72
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 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. 1 2 The 2010 census groups Pentecostal with Other Christian Evangelical (Pentecostal/Cristiana/Evangélica) for a total number of 7,565,463 (6.73%).
  3. 1 2 3 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)
State Roman Catholic Protestant and Evangelical Other Christian Jewish Other None Not 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. "Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010 – Cuestionario básico". INEGI. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  2. Yolotl González Torres. The Revival of Mexican Religions: The Impact of Nativism. Numen. Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan. 1996), pp. 1–31
  3. Zotero Citlalcoatl. AMOXTLI YAOXOCHIMEH.
  4. "Mexico". International Religious Report. U.S. Department of State. 2003. Retrieved 4 October 2007.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Religion" (PDF). Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2000. INEGI. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2007.
  6. "Church attendance". World Values Survey. 1997.
  7. 1 2 3 “Religion in Mexico: Where angels fear to tread: Evangelicals are swooping on long-ignored regions”, The Economist, dated 24 March 2012.
  8. "The Largest Catholic Communities". Retrieved 10 November 2007.
  9. "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.
  10. 2015 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watch Tower Society. p. 182.
  11. 1 2 Panorama de las religiones en México 2010 (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  12. LDS Newsroom (Statistical Information), see also The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership statistics#North America
  13. "Table: Muslim Population by Country". Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  14. "Mexican Catholics find God in Islam". Public Radio International. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  15. "Indígenas musulmanes abren plática sobre el Islam en San Cristóbal". 22 August 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  16. Fitra Ismu Kusumo. Islam en el Mexico Contemporaneo. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  17. 1 2 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.
  18. Abbas, `Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, trans. and comments.
  19. 1 2 "Comunidad Bahá'í de México". National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Mexico. 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  20. Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923–1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  21. "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  22. Jodorowsky, Alejandro. The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky The Creator of El Topo, Rochester, Vermont: (Park Street Press, 2005)
  23. Thlate 1960s.City Paper – Jodorowsky
  24. Aciprensa
  25. Catholic News Agency

Further reading

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