Religion in Uganda is predominantly Christian with Catholicism and Protestantism as the main stream sects. The Muslims, the Pentecostals, the Orthodox and other sects are in the minority … generally speaking, Ugandan religion is about freedom of worship.
.. And so that you know, Uganda is generally a God fearing country – certainly this is the underlying mood right from its motto ‘For God and my Country‘. There is a lot of reference and hope placed in the divine power.)
Long before colonial rule, societies were mainly based on traditional and cultural beliefs and worship. The coming of the Christian missionaries in the late 1870s forever changed religion in Uganda; first were the protestant missionaries in 1877, followed by the Catholics in 1879.
The Arabs – the Muslims missionaries if you like, had come into Uganda earlier on in 1845 but their mission was rather more of trade than spreading Islam.
… From then on, with the missionaries establishing religious foundations throughout the country, the Protestants and Catholics have shared the largest of the religious space; 35.9% and 41.9% respectively, the Muslims at 12.1% and the others i.e. Pentecostals, the Seventh Day Adventists and the rest share just over 10% (these estimates are based on the 2002 census).
In addition to these major Ugandan religions there are several smaller groups practising different faiths such as various lesser known denomination like the Orthodox Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, the Baha’i believers and the adherents of Judaism commonly known as the Bayudaya.
Such is the picture of religion in Uganda – the dominancy is quite evenly distributed – but perhaps Catholicism prevails in the northern and West Nile regions. Iganga district in the eastern region has the highest concentration of Muslims while the Bayudaya are concentrated in Mbale district.
… Quite significantly though, in the last 10/15 years, the Pentecostal churches have been rapidly growing eating into all the other sects … conceivably more into the Protestants and Catholics. The 4.6% estimate of the 2002 census could have easily jumped to about 10% now.
Uganda is one country where all religions are guaranteed freedom to practice their faith by law. However, there is thorough checks to make sure cults that masquerade as religious sects are not granted that freedom. A lot of this is drawn from past experiences where cults have massively misguided and killed their followers.
It’s worth noting also, especially in the urban cities and towns now, the stint of globalisation – global interconnections, social media and the like, has had its effect resulting in a generally atheistic attitude as far as religion in Uganda is concern.
… And although still relatively rare, one can now meet people who quite honestly will say they don’t hold any religious belief, if anything, just a bit! They might simply believe there is a heavenly power but that is as far as they go with practicing any faith.
3rd June (Uganda Martyrs day) is one date that stands out in the Ugandan public holidays as far as Religion in Uganda is concern – particularly for the Catholics and Protestants. Christians from all walks of life gather here to celebrate spirituality and history – remembering the lives of 45 brave young men who under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom were burned to death for their refusal to denounce Christianity in 1886.
… And although Religion and politics have such an influence on life in Uganda, religion and churches or mosques for that matter have no influence over government – the two are separate entities that only support each other.