Religion in Guatemala

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Religion in Guatemala (2014) [1]

  Catholics (50%)
  Protestants (41%)
  Unaffiliated (6%)
  Other (3%)
Catedral Metropolitana in Guatemala City,

In Guatemala 50–60% of the population is Roman Catholicism in Guatemala, 40% Protestant and 1% follow the indigenous Mayan faith.[2][not in citation given] Catholicism was the official religion during the colonial era.[when?] However, Protestantism has been increased in recent decades. More than one third of Guatemalans are Protestant, chiefly Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy have also been expanding rapidly, especially among indigenous Mayans; Guatemala is now the most Orthodox country in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Roman Catholic[edit]

Catholicism was the main religion during the colonial era.[when?] It is common for relevant Mayan practices to be incorporated into Catholic ceremonies and worship when they are sympathetic to the meaning of Catholic belief a phenomenon known as inculturation.[3][4] The practice of traditional Mayan religion is increasing as a result of the cultural protections established under the peace accords. The government has instituted a policy of providing altars at every Mayan ruin found in the country so that it is easier for traditional Mayans to worship.


Current estimates of the Protestant population of Guatemala range from 25 to 40 percent, making it the most Protestant country in Latin America.[5][6] Most of these Protestants are Pentecostals. The first Protestant missionary, Frederick Crowe, arrived in Guatemala in 1843, but Conservative President Rafael Carrera expelled him in 1845.[7] Protestant missionaries re-entered the country in 1882 under the patronage of Liberal President Justo Rufino Barrios. These Northern Presbyterian missionaries opened the first permanent Protestant church in the country in Guatemala City, which still exists one block behind the presidential palace in zone 1 of Guatemala City.[8]

Protestants remained a small portion of the population until the late-twentieth century, when various Protestant groups experienced a demographic boom that coincided with the increasing violence of the Guatemalan Civil War. Two Guatemalan heads of state, General Efraín Ríos Montt, who in 2013 was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, and Jorge Serrano Elias, have been practicing Protestants. They are the only two Protestant heads of state in the history of Latin America.[9][10] Large portions of the nations Mayan population are practitioners, especially in the northern highlands.

Orthodox Christianity[edit]

Main article: Orthodox Christianity in Guatemala

The Orthodox population began expanding markedly beginning in the early 2010s. In 2010, between 100,000 and 200,000 members of a group which had started as a Charismatic Catholic movement before leaving the Catholic Church, were received into Eastern Orthodoxy under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, which is Oriental Orthodox, received as many as 500,000 converts from a schismatic Catholic denomination in 2013.

Both the Syriac and Greek Orthodox converts are largely made up of indigenous Mayans.

Latter Day Saints[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently has over 215,000 members in Guatemala, accounting for approximately 1.65% of the country's estimated population in 2008.[11] The first member of the LDS Church in Guatemala was baptized in 1948. Membership grew to 10,000 by 1966, and 18 years later, when the Guatemala City Temple[12][13] was dedicated in 1984, membership had risen to 40,000. By 1998 membership had quadrupled again to 164,000.[11] The LDS Church continues to grow in Guatemala; it has announced and begun the construction of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple, the LDS Church's second temple in the country.[14]


There are also small communities of Buddhists at around 9,000 to 12,000, Jews estimated between 1,200 and 2,000,[15] Muslims at 1,200 and members of other faiths.


In the census of 2010, there was a significant increase in percentage of atheists or people with no religion.

Irreligion in Guatemala can refer to atheism, not religion, agnosticism. However there are high percentages of confidence in the church and religious practice, the country has no official religion since 1882, Guatemala is the second irreligion country in Central America, after Costa Rica.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "state department". September 15, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ From Guatemala: the focolare, a school of inculturation. Focolare. July 28, 2011. Retrieved on 2012-01-02.
  4. ^ Duffey, Michael K Guatemalan Catholics and Mayas: The Future of Dialogue
  5. ^ "Los evangélicos son mayoría en Guatemala, según datos católicos". Diario Evangélico Digital Berea. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Clifton, Holland. "ESTIMATED PROTESTANT POPULATION IN CENTRAL AMERICA BY COUNTRIES: 1935-2012". PROLADES. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Garrard-Burnett, Virginia (1998). Protestantism in Guatemala: Living in the New Jerusalem. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-292-72817-4. 
  8. ^ Garrard-Burnett. Protestantism in Guatemala. p. 14. 
  9. ^ Garrard-Burnett. Protestantism in Guatemala. pp. 138–161. 
  10. ^ Garrard-Burnett, Virginia (2011). Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982-1983. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  11. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Guatemala City Guatemala Temple Main". Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Temples – LDS Newsroom". December 22, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Templo Quetzaltenango". Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Guatemala". April 3, 2007. Retrieved June 1, 2010.