Religious Beliefs In Benin

Cotonou Cathedral, Benin. Editorial credit: Cora Unk Photo /
Cotonou Cathedral, Benin. Editorial credit: Cora Unk Photo /

The Republic of Benin is a West African country that is bordered by Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Nigeria. The population of Benin is approximately 10.8 million people with their official dialect being French. Culturally diverse, Benin's people follow a diverse mix of Christian, Muslim and West African traditional beliefs. Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religious group in Benin and is followed closely by Islam and Vodun.

Religious Beliefs In Benin

Roman Catholic Christianity

In Benin, Christianity is the most practiced religion with more than half of the entire Christian group belonging to Roman Catholicism. Christianity entered Benin during the late 16th century. Benin's Catholic hierarchy includes the Archdiocese of Cotonou which consists of the Dassa-Zoume, Lokossa, Abomey, Porto Novo Dioceses and the Parakou composed of the Natitingou, Djougou, N'dali and Kandi Dioceses. The Roman Catholic Christians in Benin have 900 women and men in religious order and 440 priests. Roman Catholic Christians account for 27% of Benin's population.


Islam was brought into Benin by the Songhai-Dendi traders and Hausa from the north. Most Muslims in Benin practice the Sunni which is an Islamic branch with the existence of Shi'a Muslims who are very few and are mostly expatriates from the Middle East. There is also the presence of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who most recently inaugurated the AL Mahdi Mosque in 2006 in Benin. A lot of the nominal Muslims in Benin practice Islam together with their traditional local religious beliefs. Islam in Benin accounts for 24% of the population.

West Africa Vodun

Vodun which means spirit in the Ewe and Fon language is widely practiced by many West African countries mostly in the southern and central regions of Benin. Vodun religious beliefs are entirely different from other African traditional beliefs since it is syncretized with Christian beliefs to some extent together with indigenous American traditions and the traditional beliefs of the Kongo people. Vodun majorly concentrates on spirits and divine elements that rule the earth, deities which govern human society and natural forces as well as spirits of individual trees, streams and rocks and defenders of a certain nation, clan or tribe. Vodun is the center of the religious life and has female priesthood which can be hereditary being passed down from mother to daughter. The Vodun worship believes in a divine Creator known as Mawu or Mahu a female being who gave birth to seven children and gave them dominion over seven different realms of nature. About 17% of the population of Benin practices West African Vodun.

Protestantism and Other Forms of Non-Catholic Christianity

Christianity first entered Benin around the year 1680 and gained momentum during the 19th century. In 1843, English Methodists began in Benin spreading among the Gun people from the coastal region. The Non-Catholic Christians in Benin include Jehovah's Witness, Rosicrucians, Methodists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Unification Church, Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Celestial Christians, and Baptists. Just like most nominal Muslims, some nominal Christians also practice traditional local religious beliefs. Protestantism and other Non-Catholic Christians in Benin account for 16% of the population.

Other Religious Beliefs and Religious Freedom In Benin

Benin is a religiously diverse country consisting of Atheism and Agnosticism which accounts for 7% of the population, West African folk religions and traditional beliefs aside from Vodun which accounts for 6% of Benin's population and Eckankar, Baha'i faith and other beliefs accounting for 3% of the country’s population. Benin's constitution provides for freedom of religion which is also respected by the government.

Religious Beliefs In Benin

RankBelief SystemShare of Population in Benin
1Roman Catholic Christianity27%
3West African Vodun17%
4Protestantism and Other Forms of Non-Catholic Christianity16%
5Atheism or Agnosticism7%
6West African Folk Religions and Traditional Beliefs other than Vodun

Eckankar, Baha'i Faith, and Other Beliefs3%

More in Society