Religious beliefs in the Philippines

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica is one of the best-known Catholic churches in the Philippines.

The main religion in the Philippines is Roman Catholic Christianity, followed by Islam and other types of Christianity. In the Philippines, all religions are protected by law and no religious belief has priority over another. Below is an overview of the largest religions in the country, with data from the CIA World Factbook.

Roman Catholicism is the largest religion in the Philippines. This religion was first introduced by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the early 1500s. Magellan, whose original destination was Spice Island, arrived on the island of Cebu in the Philippines due to a missed itinerary. He then proceeded to make Roman Catholicism a state religion by first converting the leader of Cebu and several hundred of his followers. Today, a large majority of the population of the Philippines – around 80% – identifies as Roman Catholic.

Protestant Christianity is the second largest religious group in the Philippines. Evangelical Protestantism was brought to the Philippines by American missionaries after the Spanish-American War between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some Protestant groups affiliated with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), however, established themselves locally, without any foreign influence.

Islam is the third religion in the Philippines after Catholicism and Christianity. The religion existed in the region for about a century before the spread of Christianity. Islam first spread to the island of Simunul in the Philippines through foreign trade with countries like India. Specifically, it was the Islamic cleric Karim ul ‘Makhdum who introduced the religion to the region. Subsequently, he established the first mosque on the same island, which today is the oldest mosque in the country.

Other – 1.9%

Other minor religions in the country include Hinduism, Judaism, Bahá’í Faith, Indigenous Beliefs, Other Christians, and Atheists.

Indigenous traditions predate the colonial religions of Islam and Christianity in the Philippines. The most prevalent views are those of animism, which is the belief that even non-living entities such as trees and plants have spirits. Indigenous religions are characterized by the worship of various deities, as opposed to monotheistic religions. In terms of influence, other religions, even the predominant Roman Catholic, have embraced animism in combination with their own beliefs. This mixture is known as religious syncretism.

Other Christian groups in the country include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventists, and many others.

Religious beliefs in the Philippines

Rank Religion Population (%)
1 Catholic 80.6
2 Protestant 8.2
3 Muslim 5.6
4 Other 1.9
5 Tribal religions .2
6 Nothing .1