Religions in Zambia (2022 estimate)[1][2]

  Christianity (95.5%)
  Islam (2.7%)
  Other (1.8%)
Interior of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in capital Lusaka.

Christianity is the predominant religion in Zambia and is recognised as the state religion by the country's constitution.[3] Before the arrival of European missionaries, the various ethnic groups residing in the territory of modern day Zambia practiced a variety of African traditional religions.

The 2010 census found that 75.3% of Zambians were Protestant, 20.2% were other Christians, 0.5% were Muslim, 2.2% followed other religions, and 1.8% had no religion.[1]: 20  However, the World Christian Database in 2016 noted that 82.3% of the population were Christian, 10.4% were Animists, 0.5% were Baháʼí, 2.2% were Muslim, 4.6% were agnostic, and all other groups including Hindu were counted as 0.2%, in 2015.[4]


Zambia gained independence in 1964 from the British Empire.[5] Post independence, Pentecostal and charismatic missionaries from the United States were met with a wide audience in the 1970s. The growth of the religion suffered during the 80s and 90s on account of increased economic turmoil. After Frederick Chiluba (a Pentecostal Christian) became President in 1991, Pentecostal congregations expanded considerably around the country.[6] While the initial constitution did not specify religion, the amendment in 1996 declared the nation as "a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy the person's freedom of conscience and religion". As per Article 1 of the constitution, the nation is a Sovereign Secular Republic and as per Article 25, citizens free to express thoughts and practice any religion.[7]

In September 2021 the newly elected president, Hakainde Hichilema, disbanded the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs and put regulating religions under the control of the Office of the Vice President.[8]


The government requires religious groups to affiliate with a "mother body" which in 2021 were 14 in number. The Christian ones were Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Independent Churches of Zambia, Apostles Council of Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Christian Missions in Many Lands. The non-Christian ones were Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia, Hindu Association of Zambia, Guru Nanak Council of Zambia, Jewish Board of Deputies Zambia, Rastafarians, Council for Zambia Jewry, and Baha’i Faith in Zambia.[8]


Main article: Christianity in Zambia

Portrait of David Livingstone

Christianity is believed to have arrived in Zambia in the form of European Protestant missionaries and African explorers during the mid of 19th century. David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary who did pioneering missionary work that brought the attention of Africa to the Western world. Livingstone inspired abolitionists of the slave trade, explorers and missionaries. He led the way in Central Africa to missionaries who initiated the education and health care for Africans. Many African chiefs and tribes held him in high esteem and it was one of the major reasons for facilitating relations between them and the British.[9]

Zambia is officially a Christian nation according to the 1996 constitution,[3] but a wide variety of religious traditions exist. Traditional religious thought blends easily with Christian beliefs in many of the country's syncretic churches. Christian denominations include: Presbyterianism, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, New Apostolic Church, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Branhamism, and a variety of Evangelical denominations. These grew, adjusted and prospered from the original Catholic missionary settlements (Portuguese influences) in the east from Mozambique and Anglicanism (English and Scottish influences) from the south. Except for some technical positions (e.g. physicians), Western missionary roles have been assumed by native believers.[6] Zambia has one of the largest communities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Africa with over 200,000 members.[10]

Baháʼí Faith

Main article: Baháʼí Faith in Zambia

The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) reported Zambia as having the eighth highest population of followers of the Baháʼí Faith, with 241,100, representing 1.80% of the population, placing it at fourth overall in that measure, in 2010.[11] However the official website of the Bahá'í Community of Zambia reported 4,000 Bahá'ís in 2018[12] and the UNdata reported 3,891 Bahá'ís in 2015.[13]

The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation, an organization founded in 1995 and run by the Zambian Baháʼí community, is particularly active in areas such as literacy and primary health care.[14][15] The Maseltha Institute, its parent organization, was founded earlier in 1983.[15]


Main article: Islam in Zambia

Hindu temple and Mosque in Lusaka Province.

Islam arrived in Zambia in the form of Arab slave traders during the mid of 18th century. Other Muslims and people from Hindu community arrived to Zambia during British Colonial rule.[16] In 2014, there are 100,000 Muslims in Zambia, representing 2.7% of total population.[2][17] The vast majority of Muslims in Zambia are Sunni. An Ismaili Shia community is also present. About 500 people in Zambia belong to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.[18]


See also: History of the Jews in Zambia

There is also a small Jewish community, composed mostly of Ashkenazis. Notable Jewish Zambians have included Simon Zukas, retired Minister, MP and a member of Forum for Democracy and Development and earlier the MMD and United National Independence Party. Additionally, the economist Stanley Fischer, currently the governor of the Bank of Israel and formerly head of the IMF was born and partially raised in Zambia's Jewish community.

Notable sects, such as the Alice Lenshina–led Lumpa Church and the newly established Last Church of Order also exist.

Humanists and Atheists of Zambia

A nonprofit organization, Humanists and Atheists of Zambia (HAZ)[19] was founded in 2018, promoting secular humanism and aiming to normalize atheism in the country due to the stigma of the topic. HAZ organises campaigns and discussions on the issues relating to humanism, secularism, and human rights.[20]

In June 2019, the President of HAZ, Larry Tepa, released a press statement announcing a youth conference to be held in October the same year.[21] Following the release hundreds of Zambians were displeased about the presence of atheists in Zambia,[19] and called on The Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA)[22] to stop the event through social media.[23]

Freedom of religion

In 2023, the country was scored 3 out of 4 for religious freedom.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b "2010 Census of Population and Housing" (PDF). Central Statistical Office, Zambia. p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2016.: 19–20 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b "Amended Constitution of Zambia". Government of Zambia. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Zambia". Association for Religion Data Archives. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  5. ^ "HISTORY OF ZAMBIA". Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  6. ^ a b Matthew Steel (2005). "Pentecostalism in Zambia : Power, Authority and the Overcomers". MSc Dissertation. University of Wales. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ Durham, W. Cole; Ferrari, Silvio; Cianitto, Cristiana; Thayer, Donlu (2016). Law, Religion, Constitution: Freedom of Religion, Equal Treatment, and the Law. Routledge. p. 164. ISBN 9781317107385.
  8. ^ a b "2021 Report on International Religious Freedom: Zambia". United States Department of State. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  9. ^ Blaikie, William Garden (1880). The Personal Life of David Livingstone. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  10. ^ "2023 Country and Territory Reports". Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 2023.
  11. ^ "QuickLists: Most Baha'i (sic) Nations (2010)". Association of Religion Data Archives. 2010. Archived from the original on 2021-03-02. Retrieved 2020-10-20.
  12. ^ "Bahá'í Faith in Zambia – The Bahá'í Community of Zambia". 2018-05-30. Archived from the original on 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  13. ^ "UNdata | record view | Population by religion, sex and urban/rural residence". Filter to Zambia. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  14. ^ DL Publicaciones. "About DLP". Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007.
  15. ^ a b "William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Georgetown University. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  16. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark, eds. (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781452266565.
  17. ^ "Zambia Religion Facts & Stats". Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  18. ^ Henze, John, ed. (2007). Some basics of religious education in Zambia. Mission Press. ISBN 9789982073370. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  19. ^ a b ""On we go": Zambian humanists and atheists look forward to first national meeting – despite moral panic". Humanists International. 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  20. ^ ""Humanism in Zambia": creation of a 12-episode podcast to spread humanism in the country".
  21. ^ Emmanuel (2019-06-27). "Zambia: Is atheist gathering going to happen?". Southern African Development Community. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  22. ^ "Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs". Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  23. ^ "Will the Zambian government stop atheist gathering in October?". 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  24. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08