Religion in El Salvador

El Salvador's approximately 6.2 million inhabitants (July 2017) are mostly Christian.[1] Evangelical Protestantism is experiencing rapid growth in recent decades while the Catholic share of the population is on decline.[2]

Religion in El Salvador (2017)[1]

  Catholics (47.5%)
  Protestants (35.1%)
  None/Atheist/Agnostic (14.5%)
  Others (2.9%)

Religious affiliation

There is some debate about percentages, the Institute of Public Opinion of the University of Central America in May 2017 found 47.5% of the population as Roman Catholics, and 35.1% as Protestant, 14.5% as not having a religion and the remainder (about 3%) being Jehovah's Witnesses, International Society of Krishna Consciousness, Muslims, Jews, Bahais, Buddhists, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and members of indigenous religions.[1] However Latinobarómetro in 2017 found 39% were Catholic, 28% Protestant, 30% atheist/agnostic/not religious, 2% other religions, and 1% did not answer.[3] It also found in 1996 that 67% of the population considered themselves Catholic and 15% Protestant.[3]

Protestant denominations

Protestant denominations as a percent of those identifying as Protestant (38.2%, 2009)[4]
Assemblies of God21.3
Bautista Amigos de Israel11.5
Church of God7.0
Profética (Prophetic)6.1
Apóstoles y Profetas (Apostles and Prophets)3.9
La Luz del Mundo3.7
Príncipe de Paz (Prince of Peace)2.2
No denomination2.2

Mision Cristiana Elim Internacional is a large pentecostal denomination started in El Salvador. It claims that its main church in San Salvador has 120,000 attending.[5] The Assemblies of God claim 285,226 members (2007).[6]

The Mormons claim 120,317 people in 164 congregations and 1 temple (2015)[7] which if correct would be just under 2% of the population. An IUDOP study in 2009 found that Mormons were 2% of the Protestants they surveyed or about .8% of the total population.[4] They started evangelizing in El Salvador in 1951.[7]

The Anglican Church in El Salvador (a diocese of the province of the Anglican Church in Central America) claims 6,000 members in 18 congregations.[8] The Baptist Association of El Salvador claims 4,427 members[9] and the Salvadorean Lutheran Synod about 15,000 in 68 congregations.[10]


Evolution of groups and denominations in Salvadorian society (2000-2010) [11]
Group% 2000% 2010Pop. 2000Pop. 2010
Roman Catholicism 53.3%49.5%3.152.9533.085.359
Non-religious 23.8%17.4%1.407.8721.084.550
Pentecostalism 10.8%14.5%638.872903.792
Independent evangelical 5.0%10.5%295.774654.470
Mormon 2.0%2.6%118.390162.059
Other religions 1.2%1.5%70.98593.496
Historical Evangelical Denominations 1.4%1.1%82.81668.563
Muslim 0.9%1.0%53.23562.330
Seventh-day Adventist 0.6%0.8%35.49049.864
Eastern Orthodoxy 0.7%0.6%41.40537.398
Jehovah's Witness 0.3%0.5%17.74631.165
Total 100.0%100.0%5.915.4846.233.049

Religious freedom

The constitution of El Salvador provides for the freedom of religion and prohibits religious discrimination. Publicly offending others' religious beliefs or damaging religious objects is punishable by imprisonment. Members of the clergy may not hold senior government positions, and are forbidden from joining political parties.[12]

Religious groups may register with the government for the purposes of tax-exemption and acquiring building permits. Special visas are required for individuals who wish to travel to El Salvador to engage in proselytizing.[12]

Public school education is secular. Private schools may include religious content in their curricula, but do not receive government support.[12]

Since 2016, clergy have limited access to prisons, due to concerns that some members of the clergy were using prison visits to smuggle items into prisons.[12]

See also


  1. "International Religious Freedom Report for 2017: El Salvador". Retrieved 31 December 2018. For percentages it cites the Institute of Public Opinion of the University of Central America May 2017 survey.
  2. Stephen Offutt, New Centers of Global Evangelicalism in Latin America and Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2015) focuses on El Salvador the north central sout America and South Africa.
  3. "Latinobarómetro 1995 - 2017: El Papa Francisco y la Religión en Chile y América Latina" (PDF) (in Spanish). January 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. "La religión para las y los salvadoreños" (PDF). Instituto Universitario de Opinión Pública Boletín de prensa (in Spanish). San Salvador, El Salvador: r: Universidad Centroamericana José Simeó. 24 (4): 2. 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  5. "Células". Elim Mision Cristiana. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  6. Triplett, Don. "King's Castle 24/7 Prayer Fortress". Assemblies of God World Mission. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  7. "El Salvador". Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  8. "Iglesia Anglicana de El Salvador". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  9. "Baptist Association of El Salvador". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  10. "Salvadorean Lutheran Synod". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  11. Holland, Clifton. "Religious profile of Guatemala" (PDF). PROLADES. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  12. International Religious Freedom Report 2017 El Salvador, US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Further reading

  • Stephen Offutt, New Centers of Global Evangelicalism in Latin America and Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2015) focuses on El Salvador and South Africa. online review
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