Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 1,220,663 square miles and a population of 109 million. According to the Government's 2000 census, approximately 88 percent of respondents identify themselves as at least nominally Catholic. There are an estimated 11,000 Catholic churches and 14,000 Catholic priests and nuns. An additional estimated 90,000 laypersons worked in the Catholic Church. Groups that constitute less than 5 percent of the population include evangelicals (Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals, and Pentecostal Roots), "historical" Protestants (defined by the Government as Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Nazarene, Mennonite, and others), Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Jews.
The General Director for Religious Associations of the Federal Secretariat of Government (GDAR) registered a total of 3,554 evangelical and 80 traditional Protestant associations. The exact number of evangelical and Protestant churches and pastors is unknown, and statistics on membership remain scant. Official figures sometimes differ from membership claims of religious groups. For example, the Seventh-day Adventist Church claims a nationwide membership of 600,000 to 700,000 persons; however, according to the 2000 census, only 488,945 persons identify themselves as such. Also according to the 2000 census, 205,229 persons identify themselves as Mormons, whereas the Mormons claim membership of approximately 1.2 million. Non-Catholic Christians are concentrated primarily in the south. In the State of Chiapas, 21.9 percent of respondents in the 2000 census identify themselves as Protestant; however, some Protestant evangelical groups claim a much higher percentage.
The Jewish community claims approximately 50,000 members, most of whom live in Mexico City; there are also congregations in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, and Cancún. There is a small Muslim population in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, and there are an estimated 300 Muslims in the San Cristobal de las Casas area in Chiapas. Some indigenous people in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Yucatán practice a syncretic religion that mixes Catholic and pre-Hispanic Mayan religious beliefs.
In some communities, particularly in the south, there is a correlation between politics and religious affiliation. A small number of local leaders reportedly manipulate religious tensions in their communities for their own political or economic benefit, particularly in Chiapas.
Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.
1. The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
2. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.