Religion in South Sudan (2020 estimate)[1]

  Christianity (60.5%)
  Traditional faiths (32.9%)
  Islam (6.2%)
  Other (0.4%)
A Christian worship service under a tree in Warrap.

Christianity is the most widely professed religion in South Sudan, with significant minorities of the adherents of traditional faiths and Islam.

President Salva Kiir, a Catholic, while speaking at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Juba, stated that South Sudan would be a nation which respects freedom of religion.[2] The reported estimated relative proportions of adherents of traditional African religions and Christianity have varied.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] A 2019 study found that Protestants outnumbered Catholics in South Sudan.[10]


A village church in Lakes State.

Christianity has a long history in the region that is now South Sudan. Ancient Nubia was reached by Coptic Christianity by the 2nd century, and missionary activity from Ethiopia consolidated that community. In 1920, the Protestant Church Missionary Society originated a diocese.

Religious membership

In the early 1990s, official records of Sudan as a whole (Sudan and South Sudan) showed that a large percentage adhered to African Traditional Religion (17%) and Christianity (8%) (though both located mainly in the south, some also at Khartoum). Among Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and African Traditional Religion beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs.[11][12][13]

In addition to news sources, the Anglican and Catholic churches claim large membership. The Anglican Communion claimed 2 million members in 2005 in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.[14] The third largest denomination in South Sudan is the Presbyterian Church in Sudan.[15]

The most recent Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life report from December 2012 estimated that in 2010, there were 6.010 million Christians (60.46%), 3.270 million followers of African Traditional Religion (32.9%), 610,000 Muslims (6.2%) and 50,000 unaffiliated (no known religion) of a total 9,940,000 people in South Sudan.[16]

These figures are also disputed as the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life report cites 'The United Nations provided the Pew Forum with special estimates for Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan'.[17] The UN does not have any official figures on ethnicity and religion outside National Census figures.

In 2022 the new Catholic bishop of Rumbek, Christian Carlassare, stated that "More than half the population of South Sudan is Christian, only 8% are Muslim. Other groups live on the margins, and have not drawn close to the Gospel. However, we live in a country where Christianity is often no more than skin deep, it hasn't grown roots in the life of the population."[18]

Since its independance in 2011, South Sudan is regularly visited by global religious leaders. Franklin Graham led the Hope for A New Nation Festival in Juba in 2012, gathering 95.000 attenders.[19] On Tuesday 12Th November 2019, Prophet TB Joshua from Nigeria addressed the South Sudanese nation at the Presidential Palace in Juba in the presence of President Salva Kiir Mayardit.[20] From the 2d to the 4th of February 2023, Justin Welby (Anglican Communion), Pope Francis (Catholic Church) Iain Greenshields (Church of Scotland Moderator) visited South Sudan through a three-day "pilgrimage of peace to the world's newest nation.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "South Sudan". Global Religious Futures. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  2. ^ "South Sudan To Respect Freedom of Religion Says GOSS President | Sudan Radio Service". 21 February 2011. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  3. ^ "South Sudan profile". BBC News. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Background Note: Sudan" U.S. Department of State 9 November 2010 Retrieved 8 December 2010
  5. ^ Eric Kaufmann, Rethinking ethnicity: majority groups and dominant minorities. Routledge, 2004, p. 45.
  6. ^ Minahan, J. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z. Greenwood Press, 2002, p. 1786.
  7. ^ Arnold, G. Book Review: Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars. African Journal of Political Science Vol.8 No. 1, 2003, p. 147.
  8. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2012 - South Sudan". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  9. ^ Sudan: A Country Study Federal Research Division, Library of Congress – Chapter 2, Ethnicity, Regionalism and Ethnicity
  10. ^[bare URL PDF]
  11. ^ Christianity, in A Country Study: Sudan, U.S. Library of Congress.
  12. ^ "More than 100 dead in South Sudan attack-officials" Archived 28 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine SABC News 21 September 2009 Retrieved 5 April 2011
  13. ^ Hurd, Emma "Southern Sudan Votes To Split From North" Sky News 8 February 2011 Retrieved 5 April 2011
  14. ^ "How many Anglicans are there in the Anglican Church in North America?"
  15. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2013. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Pew Forum on Religion Archived 21 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ [1] Global Religious Landscape
  18. ^ ACN (4 April 2022). "New bishop in South Sudan: "We must get back on our feet and give hope to the people"". ACN International. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  19. ^ Sébastien Fath, "Franklin Graham's Crusade in South Sudan", Afrique Contemporaine, vol 252, issue 4, 2014, p.27 to 49
  20. ^ "Prophet TB Joshua's Presidential Visit to South Sudan" (Nov 2019)"
  21. ^ Sarah Fowler, "Pope in South Sudan tells clergy to raise voices against injustice", BBC, 4th of Feb, 2023