Religion in Serbia (2022 census)[1]

  Serbian Orthodoxy (81.1%)
  Catholicism (3.9%)
  Other Christian (1.7%)
  Islam (4.2%)
  No religion (1.2%)
  Other / Unanswered (7.9%)
St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Belgrade

Serbia has been traditionally a Christian country since the Christianization of Serbs by Clement of Ohrid and Saint Naum in the 9th century. The dominant confession is Eastern Orthodoxy in the fold of Serbian Orthodox Church.

During the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, Sunni Islam established itself in the territories of Serbia, mainly in southern regions of Raška and Preševo Valley, as well as in what is today the disputed territory of Kosovo and Metohija. The Catholic Church has roots in the country since the presence of Hungarians in Vojvodina (mainly in the northern part of the province), while Protestantism arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries with the settlement of Slovaks in Vojvodina.


Religious map of Serbia and Kosovo
Religion in Serbia by census (excluding Kosovo)
1921[2] 1953[3] 1991[3] 2002[4][3] 2011[3] 2022[5]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Eastern Orthodox 3,321,090 75.9 4,422,330 71.7 6,347,026 81.8 6,371,584 85.0 6,079,395 84.6 5,387,426 81.1
Catholic 751,429 17.16 607,612 9.85 496,226 6.4 410,976 5.48 356,957 4.97 257,269 3.87
Protestant no data no data 111,556 1.81 86,894 1.12 78,646 1.05 71,284 0.99 54,678 0.82
Other Christian 33,257 0.54 1,381 0.02 2,191 0.03 3,211 0.04 59,346 0.89
"Christian" 12,882 0.17 45,083 0.63
Muslim 97,672 2.23 155,657 2.52 224,120 2.89 239,658 3.2 222,829 3.1 278,212 4.19
Jewish 26,464 0.6 1,083 0.02 740 0.01 785 0.01 578 0.01 602 0.01
Eastern religions no data no data no data no data no data no data 240 0.00 1,237 0.02 1,207 0.02
Irreligious / Atheist no data no data 826,954 13.4 159,642 2.06 40,068 0.53 80,053 1.11 74,139 1.12
Agnostic 4,010 0.06 8,654 0.13
Declined to answer 197,031 2.63 220,735 3.07 169,486 2.55
Other 181,940 4.16 1,796 0.03 13,982 0.18 6,649 0.09 1,776 0.02 500 0.01
Unknown 10,768 0.17 429,560 5.54 137,291 1.83 99,714 1.39 355,484 5.35
Total 4,378,595 100 6,171,013 100 7,759,571 100 7,498,001 100 7,186,862 100 6,647,003 100


Main article: Christianity in Serbia

Eastern Orthodoxy

Main article: Eastern Orthodoxy in Serbia

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Sremski Karlovci

Most Serbians are adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, while the Romanian Orthodox Church is also present in parts of Vojvodina inhabited by an ethnic Romanian minority. Besides Serbs, other Eastern Orthodox Christians include Montenegrins, Romanians and Vlachs, Macedonians, Bulgarians, and majority of Roma.

St. Mark's Church, Belgrade

Eastern Orthodox Christianity predominates throughout most of Serbia. It is less prevalent in several municipalities and cities near borders with neighboring countries, where adherents of Islam or Catholicism are more numerous, and two predominantly Protestant municipalities in Vojvodina. Eastern Orthodoxy also predominates in most of Serbia's large cities, except for Subotica (mostly Catholic) and Novi Pazar (mostly Muslim).

The identity of ethnic Serbs was historically largely based on Eastern Orthodox Christianity and on the Serbian Orthodox Church, to the extent that there are claims[by whom?] that those not among its faithful are not Serbs. However, the conversion of the south Slavs from paganism to Christianity took place before the Great Schism, the split between the Greek East and the Latin West. After the Schism, generally speaking, those Christians who lived within the Eastern Orthodox sphere of influence became "Eastern Orthodox" and those who lived within the Catholic sphere of influence, under Rome as the patriarchal see of the West, became "Catholic". Some ethnologists consider that the distinct Serb and Croat identities relate to religion rather than ethnicity. Since the second half of the 19th century, some Serbs have converted to Protestantism, while historically some Serbs also were Latin Catholic (especially in Dalmatia) or Eastern Catholic.

Roman Catholic Cathedral in Vršac


Main article: Catholic Church in Serbia

Catholicism is present mostly in the northern part of Vojvodina, notably in the municipalities with a Hungarian ethnic majority (Bačka Topola, Mali Iđoš, Kanjiža, Senta, Ada, Čoka), the multi-ethnic city of Subotica, and the multi-ethnic municipality of Bečej. It is represented mainly by the following ethnic groups: Hungarians, Croats, Bunjevci, Germans, Slovenes, Czechs, etc. A smaller number of Roma people, Slovaks and Serbs are also Catholic. The ethnic Rusyns and a smaller part of the ethnic Ukrainians are primarily Eastern Rite Catholics.


Main article: Protestantism in Serbia

Slovak Protestant Evangelical (Lutheran) church in Novi Sad

The largest percentage of Protestant Christians in Serbia on the municipal level is in the municipalities of Bački Petrovac and Kovačica, where an absolute or relative majority of the population are ethnic Slovaks (most of whom are adherents of Protestant Christianity). Some members of other ethnic groups (especially Serbs in absolute terms and Hungarians and Germans in proportional terms) are also adherents of various forms of Protestant Christianity.

There are various Protestant groups in the country, including Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Evangelical Baptists (Nazarene). Many of these groups are situated in the culturally diverse province of Vojvodina. Protestantism (mostly in its Nazarene form) started to spread among Serbs in Vojvodina in the last decades of the 19th century. Before World War II, the number of Protestants in the region was larger.

According to the 2011 census, the largest Protestant communities were recorded in the municipalities of Kovačica (11,349) and Bački Petrovac (8,516), as well as in Stara Pazova (4,940) and the second largest Serbian city Novi Sad (8,499), which are predominantly Eastern Orthodox.[6] While Protestants from Kovačica, Bački Petrovac, and Stara Pazova are mostly Slovaks and members of the Slovak Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Serbia, services in most of the Protestant churches in Novi Sad are performed in Serbian.[7]

Bajrakli mosque in Belgrade


Main article: Islam in Serbia

With the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, some Serbs converted to Islam. This was particularly, but not wholly, so in Ottoman Bosnia. The best known Muslim Serb is probably either Mehmed Paša Sokolović or Meša Selimović.

Today, Islam is mostly present in southwest Serbia, in the regions of Sandžak and Raška (notably in the city of Novi Pazar and municipalities of Tutin and Sjenica), as well as in parts of southern Serbia (municipalities of Preševo and Bujanovac). Ethnic groups whose members are mostly adherents of Islam are: Bosniaks, ethnic Muslims, Albanians, and Gorani. A significant number of Roma people are also adherents of Islam. Predominantly Muslim Albanians who boycotted the census in 2011 decided to participate in 2022 census.

Adherents belong to one of two communities – Islamic Community of Serbia or the Islamic Community in Serbia.


Main article: History of the Jews in Serbia

Synagogue in Subotica

As of 2011, out of 787 declared Jews in Serbia, 578 stated their religion as Judaism, mostly in the cities of Belgrade (286), Novi Sad (84), Subotica (75) and Pančevo (31).[6] The only remaining functioning synagogue in Serbia is the Belgrade Synagogue. There are also small numbers of Jews in Zrenjanin and Sombor, with isolated families scattered throughout the rest of Serbia.


About 1.1% of the Serbian population is atheist. Religiosity was lowest in Novi Beograd, with 3.5% of population being atheists (compare to whole of Belgrade's and Novi Sad's 1.5%) and highest in rural parts of the country, where atheism in most municipalities went below 0.01%.[8]

In a 2009 Gallup poll, 44% of respondents in Serbia answered 'no' to the question "Is religion an important part of your daily life?"[9]

A Pew Research Center poll conducted from June 2015 to July 2016 found that 2% of Serbia were atheists, while 10% stated that they "Do not believe in God".[10]

Role of religion in public life

Lighting of candles on Saint Petka's Day in the Church of Saint Petka, Čukarica

Public schools allow religious teaching in cooperation with religious communities having agreements with the state, but attendance is not mandated. Religion classes (Serbian: verska nastava) are organized in public elementary and secondary schools, most commonly coordinated with the Serbian Orthodox Church, but also with the Catholic Church and Islamic community.

Public holidays in Serbia also include the religious festivals of Eastern Orthodox Christmas and Easter. Saint Sava Day is a working holiday celebrated as a Day of Spirituality as well as Day of Education. Believers of other faiths are legally allowed to celebrate their religious holidays.

Religious freedom

Main article: Freedom of religion in Serbia

The government of Serbia does not keep records of religiously motivated violence. However reports from religious leaders in 2022 noted that incidents have gone down, and Jewish leaders reported no incidents at all in that year.[11]

The laws of Serbia establish freedom of religion, forbid the establishment of a state religion, and outlaw religious discrimination. While registration with the government is not necessary for religious groups to practice, the government confers certain privileges to registered groups. The government maintains a two-tiered system of registered groups, split between "traditional" groups and "nontraditional" groups. Minority groups and independent observers have complained that this system comprises religious discrimination, especially as the media regularly names nontraditional groups as 'sects'.[11]

The media and individual members of the National Assembly have been criticized for using disparaging language when referring to nontraditional groups. Antisemitic literature is commonly available in bookstores, and is prevalent online.[11]

Although religious freedom was largely respected by the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia[12][13] and Serbia's constitutions through its various incarnations as either an independent state or as part of Yugoslavia have nominally upheld religious freedom,[14] it was also the site of significant religiously and ethnically-motivated war crimes during World War II[15] and the Yugoslav Wars.[16] The government has programs established for the restitution of property confiscated by the government of Yugoslavia after World War II, and for property lost in the Holocaust.

In 2023, Freedom House rated Serbia 4 out of 4 on the question "Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?".[17]

See also


  1. ^ "2022 Census of Population, Мother tongue, religion and ethnic affiliation". Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
  2. ^ Demographic growth and ethnographic changes in Serbia
  3. ^ a b c d Etnokonfesionalni i jezički mozaik Srbije, 2011 (PDF) (in Serbian). Belgrade: Republički zavod za statistiku. 2015. p. 181. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  4. ^ Book 3 Page 13 Archived 2011-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Мother tongue, religion and ethnic affiliation | ABOUT CENSUS". Retrieved 2023-07-05.
  6. ^ a b "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia" (PDF). Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
  7. ^ "Mapa verskih zajednica Novog Sada" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  8. ^ Book 3 Pages 13-16 Archived 2011-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Gallup Global Reports". Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  10. ^ "Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  11. ^ a b c US State Dept 2022 report
  12. ^ Romano, Jaša (1980). Jews of Yugoslavia 1941–1945. Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia. pp. 573–590.
  13. ^ Rudolf B. Schlesinger (1988). Comparative law: cases, text, materials. Foundation Press. p. 328. ISBN 9780882776156. Some countries, notably the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, had preserved enclaves of Islamic law (relating to personal...)..
  14. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2017 Serbia, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia: 1941–1945. p744. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804779244.
  16. ^ United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992) (28 December 1994). "Annex IV: The policy of ethnic cleansing". Final report. Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Freedom House website, Serbia page, retrieved 2023-08-08