Religious Beliefs In California

Saint Ignatius church in California.
Saint Ignatius church in California.

California is the most populated state in the United States, with an estimated 39 million people living within its borders. With a population of this magnitude, diversity is displayed, particularly when it comes to religion. Being home to representatives of virtually every race on the planet, the state of California has Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, and Atheists.

Protestants - 32%

Protestants make up the largest religious group in California with about 32% of the population subscribing to the faith. There are more than 200 mega churches in the state with some dating back to the late 19th century. Some of the most famous Protestant churches in California include Hillsong LA, Tapestry Church LA, and the Renew Church.

Catholics - 28%

Until 2000, Catholics formed the most significant part of the population in the state of California, but now the Protestants have the largest following, however, California still has the largest number of Catholics in the whole of the United States making up 28% of the population. The Catholic faith has been part of California for 250 years and has been growing stronger over the years. Some of the most majestic and historical edifices in California are Catholic churches with the most notable one being the Serra Chapel located in San Juan Capistrano that was established in 1776. Others include the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi and the St. Timothy Church.

Non-Religious - 27%

The third largest group in California is incidentally made up of people who are not affiliated with any known religion. This group makes up about 27% of the total population of Californians. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that California has one of the highest numbers of atheist, non-affiliated theists, and agnostics.

Jews - 3.2%

California is home to more than 1 million Jews which makes it the second state with the largest population of Jews after the state of New York. Jews make up 3.2% of the population. Some of the iconic synagogues include the Beth Jacob Congregation located in Beverley Hills and Temple Israel in Stockton.

Muslims - 1%

Muslims make up 1% of California’s population which, despite their low numbers in comparison to the other religions is still the highest number of Muslims by any state. Most of them live in the San Diego area. Besides being home to the most number of Muslims, the state of California has the highest number of mosques among all the states.


Other religions prevalent in California include Buddhism, Shinto, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Taoism that became part of California thanks to the Asian emigrants who constitute a sizeable percentage of the population. California is also home to the 2nd largest number of Mormons after the state of Utah. Mormons trace their origin back to the 1800s which is the time they came from Brooklyn to make San Francisco their new home. About 780,000 Mormons live in California.


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