Religion in Kenya

The predominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, which is adhered to by an estimated 84.8% of the total population. Islam is the second largest religion in Kenya, practiced by approximately 9.7[2] to 11.1 percent[3] of Kenyans. Other faiths practiced in Kenya are Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism and traditional religions.

Religion in Kenya (2010)[1]
religion percent


Roman Catholicism was first brought to Kenya in the fifteenth century by the Portuguese, and was spread rapidly during the 20th century by missionaries. Today, the main Christian denominations in Kenya are Protestant confessions, which make up about 47.4% of the country's religious composition.[3] They include the Anglican Church of Kenya, Africa Inland Church, Full Gospel Churches of Kenya, and the Presbyterian, Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and Pentecostal churches. Kenya has by far the highest number of Quakers of any country in the world, with around 119,285 members.[4] The Roman Catholic Church makes up 23.3% of the population, about 11.2 million Kenyans.[3]

The Eastern Orthodox Church has over 650,000 members in Kenya (2010),[5] making it the third largest Orthodox Church in Sub-Saharan Africa (after the Oriental Orthodox Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church). In 2016 two new dioceses were created within the Orthodox Archdiocese of Kenya, namely the Diocese of Nyeri and Mount Kenya, as well as the Diocese of Kisumu and West Kenya, both falling under the Archdiocese of Nairobi, which is since 2001 presided by Archbishop Makarios (Tillyrides).[6]

Other statistically significant non-Catholic and non-Protestant movements include the New Apostolic Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, United Pentecostal Church International, and Branhamism. The non-Protestant and non-Catholic groups make up about 11.8% of the population.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 10,000 members in 39 congregations in Kenya.[7] They also have 2 family history centres in Kenya, and an employment resource center in Nairobi.[8][9]

A 2015 study estimates some 70,000 Christian believers from a Muslim background in the country, most of them belonging to some form of Protestantism.[10]


Islam is the religion of approximately 9.7[2] to 11.1 percent[3] of the population. Most Muslims in Kenya are Sunni, mostly of the Shafii rite. Approximately 7% percent identify themselves as Shia and about 4% identify themselves as Ahmadi Muslims,[11] as well as a small proportion of Ibadism practitioners.[12] Muslims are concentrated mainly in the Coastal and North Eastern Regions. Nairobi has several mosques and a notable Muslim population. There are large and historically significant populations of Swahili Muslims on the coast (most notably in Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi), in the Western Province, and smaller numbers of Somali, Arab and South Asian Muslims.

Religious Shari'ah courts, called Kadhi courts, are given jurisdiction over certain civil matters such as divorce and inheritance under the constitution of Kenya. Muslims have complained that they are targeted and discriminated against by the government, particularly since the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Nairobi and elsewhere. The religions subsiding in Kenya do not display the distinctions between the 42 cultures. They mainly display the traditions of the larger "umbrella" cultures.

Traditional African religions

African religions are typically based on natural phenomena and reverence to ancestors. The dead are presumed to merely transform into another state of being and capable of bringing good fortune or calamity to the living. Most religious rites are therefore centred on appeasing the dead through sacrifices and proper burial rites. The dead's wishes must also be followed to the letter.

Followers of traditional Kikuyu religion believe Ngai resides on Mt. Kenya and say their prayers facing the mountain. Followers of traditional Mijikenda religion have their holy shrines in the forests where they offer sacrifices and pray.

The Maasai, Turkana, Samburu and Pokot tribes also have significant numbers of persons adhering exclusively to traditional African religions.


There are Hindus living in Kenya. The numbers are estimated to be around 0.14% of the population. They are mainly located in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, and other urban areas such as Mombasa, Eldoret, Thika and Kisumu.

No religion

In the 2009 Census, 922,128 people reported themselves as having "no religion".[3] This is 2.4% of the total, making this group larger than the groups reporting themselves as traditionalists, Hindu or other religion. 61,233, 0.2%, reported that they did not know their religion. There is a stigma against people who are atheists in Kenya.[13][14] A Gallup poll conducted in 2012 found that 88% of Kenyans considered themselves "a religious person", 9% consider themselves "a non religious person", while 2% define themselves as "a convinced atheist", placing Kenya in top 10 religious populations in the world.[15]


Since 1999,[16] Buddhism has grown in Kenya. There are more than 1000 Buddhists in Kenya. Buddhism is also one of the fastest[17] growing religions in Kenya.

Nairobi Buddhist Temple

Nairobi Buddhist Vihara/Temple is the main centre of Buddhism in Kenya .Nairobi Vihara conducts missions and meditation[18] programs to promote Buddhism in Kenya.

Baha'í Faith

Present in Kenya from 1945, the religion grew to an estimated 308,000 people in 2005[19] or about 1% of the population.[20][21] In the 1990s the Bahá'ís in Kenya participated in a nationwide community health project including vaccinations, maintaining latrines and developing clean water sources.[22]

See also


  1. "Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project: Kenya"
  2. "Appendix 2: Religious Diversity Index Scores and Religious Adherents by Region and Country" (PDF).
  3. 2009 Population & Housing Census Results Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Finding Quakers around the World" (PDF). Friends World Committee for Consultation. 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  5. Table: Christian Population in Numbers by Country. Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life. DECEMBER 19, 2011. Retrieved: 7 February 2017.
  6. ENTHRONEMENT OF BISHOPS IN KENYA - MAY 2016. (St. Barnabas Orthodox Mission Kenya). May 16, 2016.Retrieved: 7 February 2017.
  7. "LDS Statistics and Church Facts | Total Church Membership".
  8. LDS Meetinghouse Locator.Latter Day Saint Facilities.
  9. Orthodox Wiki: Makarios (Tillyrides) of Kenya
  10. Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". IJRR. 11: 14. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  11. "The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity" (PDF). Pew Forum on Religious & Public life. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  12. Prevost, Virginie. "The Ibadis in the Region of the Indian Ocean. Section One: East Africa,(«Studies on Ibadism and Oman», 1)." (2015): 169-172.
  13. "The rise of atheism in modern Kenya". Daily Nation. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  14. "Why We Don't Believe In God". The Star. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  15. "GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGION AND ATHEISM" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  16. "Home Page | Nairobi Buddhist Temple". Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  17. "How's Buddhism spreading in Africa?". Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  18. "Special Events And Spiritual Programs At The Nairobi Buddhist Temple | Nairobi Buddhist Temple". Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  19. Year 2000 Estimated Baha'i statistics from: David Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia, 2000; Total population statistics, mid-2000 from Population Reference Bureau
  20. "WCC > Member churches > Regions > Africa > Kenya". World Council of Churches. World Council of Churches. 2008. Archived from the original on 11 March 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  21. US State Department (2007). "Background Note: Kenya". The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  22. Community health workers in Kenya stir broad changes Volume 7, Issue 4 March – January 1996

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.