Religion in Hungary is predominantly Christian. Historically, the formation of Hungary was based on Christianity as it was declared the state religion by King St. Stephen. Over the past millennium, the percentage of Christians has fallen from almost the entire population to around three-fifths today who call themselves Christians. The advent of modern ideas means that many people, especially the younger generation, have started to identify themselves as atheists, agnostics or downright unaffiliated.
Christianity and its various forms in Hungary
The vast majority of the population identifies as Roman Catholic. This is part of the continuity of the historical tradition on which the State was formed. Essentially, Roman Catholicism was the state religion until the 16and century. Roman Catholics still form the largest religious entity with 37.1% of the population. However, it is important to note that despite being the largest group, it is no longer a clear majority and population share can be seen for evidence of a declining trend.
A large number of Christians converted from Roman Catholics to the Reformed Church of Hungary. The Reformation dates back to the 16and century when Lutheranism and later Calvinism swept the population. The Reformed Church, along with many other minor Protestant Christian denominations, forms about 13.8% of Hungary’s total population.
Only about 1.8% of the Hungarian population practices Greek Catholic Christianity. However, this is a group of very faithful Christians who are working to preserve their faith. The buildings of the Greek Catholic Church are famous for their architecture and are the subject of many visits by tourists and locals.
Other religious affiliations
Other major religions practiced in Hungary are Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Paganism. Despite the different faiths practiced, the total number is heavily eclipsed by Christianity with only 1.9% of people representing all of these other religious affiliations. Of these, Judaism has the largest share with 0.1% and the rest counts for less than that. However, Hungarians are very tolerant and respectful of minorities and the freedom to practice their faith is given to all citizens.
Atheism or agnosticism
In total, around 18.2% of Hungarians do not believe in a God or claim to be non-religious. Of these, only 1.5% identify as atheists while the remaining 16.7% declare themselves non-religious but do not rule out the possibility that there is a God. This trend is quite modern and only dates back to the last two decades and these numbers are expected to be higher in the future as more modernist thoughts find their way into Hungarian society.
Religion in modern times in Hungary
A large number of Hungarian citizens have not chosen to declare their religious beliefs, which may indicate indecision or a state of transition. Either way, it provides a very interesting contrast to history where Christianity, and specifically Roman Catholicism, were the major religions. The change in the religious thought process is also in line with what is reflected in the rest of European nations.
Religious beliefs in Hungary
|Rank||belief system||Share of Hungarian population|
|1||Roman Catholic Christianity||37.1%|
|2||Atheism or agnosticism||18.2%|
|3||Reformed Church of Hungary and other Protestant Christian denominations||13.8%|
|4||Greek Catholic Christianity||1.8%|
|Other religious affiliations||1.9%|