A cross is pictured here in Antigua, Guatemala.

Guatemala is a Central American country located south of Mexico and is officially known as the Republic of Guatemala. Its capital, Guatemala City, which is also the largest city, is home to the National Palace of Culture and the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. It is the most populous state in South America with a population of approximately 15.8 million and an area of ​​42,042 square miles. Christianity remains a strong and vital element in Guatemalan society as it is the main religion in the country.

Religious beliefs in Guatemala

Roman Catholic Christianity

The Catholic Church in Guatemala is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church in Rome under the leadership of the Pope. It was introduced to the country by Spanish colonialists in the 16and century and remained the predominant religion in the country until the 20and century. Due to the growing number of Protestants in the country, a religious movement by charismatic Catholics was started. The movement sought to increase the number of Catholic converts. Therefore, several priests worked to ensure this. Currently, the country’s Roman Catholics form about 50% of the country’s population and thus remain the dominant religion.

Protestant Christianity

Protestant Christianity in Guatemala is the second largest religion in the country, constituting up to 37% of the total population. The first Protestant missionary to arrive in Guatemala was Frederick Crowe in 1843 but was expelled by President Rafael Carrera, a fanatic of Roman Catholicism, in 1845. In 1882 President Rufino Barrios invited several Methodist and Baptist Presbyterian missionaries to the country to challenge the power. of the Roman Catholic Church. The number of Protestant Christians remained low until the arrival of Pentecostal Protestants from the United States. The Protestants of the country are mainly located in the northern highlands and mainly constitute the Maya population.

Atheism, agnosticism or irreligion

Atheism, agnosticism or irreligion is the belief in the non-existence of a supreme creator or a time that is called non-religious in Guatemala. The most recent survey conducted in 2010 in the country revealed that up to 11% of the country’s population have no particular religion. It is one of the countries with the highest number of atheists in Latin America.

Other beliefs

About 2% of the entire Guatemalan population are of other religions evident in the country. Minority religions include Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Traditional Mayan Religion, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Religious freedoms, religious tolerance in Guatemala

There is no official state religion in Guatemala, but despite this, the country’s constitution recognizes the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church. For other religious affiliations to be recognized by the constitution, they must be approved by government regulators. Article 36 of the Guatemalan constitution also recognizes freedom of religion for all citizens, which is honored and protected by law. At the end of the civil war, missionary activities intensified in Guatemala and Protestant denominations developed strongly. The denominations lived in mutual coexistence with little friction between them.

Religious beliefs in Guatemala

Rank belief system Share of population in contemporary Guatemala
1 Roman Catholic Christianity 50%
2 Protestant Christianity 37%
3 Atheism, agnosticism or irreligion 11%
Other beliefs 2%