Religion in Portugal

Roman Catholic

Most Portuguese are Roman Catholics. Approximately 85% of the population belong to this religion although many claim not to be active participants of the church, most Portuguese still want to be baptised and get married in church. However, there are big regional differences in how the religion is practised in Portugal. A larger percentage of the people in the north than people in the south regularly attend mass and other religious services.

The church and state were officially separated during the First republic (1910-1926), however the Roman Catholic influence is still seen in Portuguese society and culture. Many Portuguese festivals, holidays and traditions have a religious origin and in almost every village the church has a prominent location on the main square.

Non-Catholic groups

For most of Portugal’s history, only a few non-Catholics lived in the country and those who did could not practise their religion freely. However in the nineteenth century the British began settling in Portugal and other Christian religious groups like the Anglicans, the Baptists and the Presbyterians started to become more widespread and tolerance for other religions slowly grew. The constitution of 1976 guaranteed all religions the right to practise their faith, and in 2001 a new law on religious freedom was passed securing privileges for the minority religions that previously were reserved only for the Roman Catholic Church.

Although a small percentage of the population, other religious groups can be found in Portugal. Anglicans and other non-catholic Christians have the highest representation followed by Muslims. There is also a small Jewish community as well as small groups of Buddhists and Hindus.