Major Religions in Vietnam

Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh, Vietnam.
Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh, Vietnam.

The majority religions in Vietnam are unique to the country and include Vietnamese folk religion, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Caodaism, and Christian Protestantism. An overview of these religions is available below.

Vietnamese Folk Religion - 73.2%

Vietnamese folk religion is the dominant religion in Vietnam. Some of these most common folk religions include:

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương

Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương is an organized folk religion in Vietnam that takes some of its religious traditions from elements of Buddhism. That religion was started by a Vietnamese mystic named Đoàn Minh Huyên (1807–1856) who while living in the Thất Sơn mountains claimed to be a living embodiment of Buddha. Currently, there are around 15,000 followers of the religion throughout Vietnam.

Minh Đạo

Minh Đạo is a religion that has its roots from the Xiantiandao (Tiên Thiên Đạo) religion of China. That religion started to emerge in Vietnam around the city of Saigon in the 17th Century just as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) of China declined and lost influence in Vietnam. For most of its history the religion focused in literature, helping the poor and worship but took on a more nationalistic tone at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Đạo Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa

Đạo Tứ Ân Hiếu Nghĩa is an organized folk religion in Vietnam that was founded at some point towards the end of the 19th Century. The religion currently has around 80,000 practitioners, mostly farmers throughout out the south of Vietnam, with most of them located in the Tri Tôn district of the country.

Đạo Mẫu

This Vietnamese folk religion worships the various mother goddesses of Vietnam, a practice that has gone on in Vietnam since its prehistory. These include, but are not limited to, the worshiping of such goddesses as Bà Chúa Xứ (The Lady of the Realm) and Bà Chúa Kho (The Lady of the Storehouse), as well as actual people, including the female warrior Lady Triệu (225-248 AD) and the Trung Sisters, who were female military leaders.

Buddhism - 12.2%

Buddhism is believed to have arrived in Vietnam from China at some point starting in the 2nd Century. Buddhism in Vietnam does not have any institutional structures, hierarchy, or sanghas that most traditional Buddhists follow, since it has grown in isolation in a symbiotic way with Taoism and other native religions in Vietnam.

Catholicism - 6.8%

Roman Catholic Christianity first came into contact with Vietnam in the 16th Century via Portuguese Catholic missionaries who first came to the country shortly after the Portuguese made contact and starting trading. The Portuguese had mild success, but it was not until Vietnam became a French colony (French Indochina 1887-1954) that Catholicism made a definitive dent in the country. In 1933 John Baptist Nguyễn Bá Tòng was made the first Vietnamese bishop and by 1976 the first Vietnamese cardinal, Archbishop Joseph Mary Trịnh Như Khuê was ordained.

Caodaism - 6.8%

Caodaism, also known as the Cao Đài faith, is an organized monotheistic folk religion that is unique to Vietnam. That religion started was officially established in 1926 in the the city of Tây Ninh where the Declaration of the Founding of the Cao Đài Religion was signed and shown to the French Governor for approval. The religion quickly grew rapidly popular with its appeal towards nationalist spirit, message of universal salvation and its ability to bring together underground sects in Vietnam.

Protestantism - 1.5%

Protestant Christianity first came to Vietnam in the early 20th Century when the Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) missionary Robert A. Jaffray (1873-1954) visited the city of Da Nang in 1911. In 1963 the Evangelical Church of Vietnam North (ECVN) was officially recognized by the government. However, it was not until 2001 that another Protestant church, the Southern Evangelical Church of Vietnam (SECV), was officially recognized. Since then more Protestant churches have been recognized by the government.

Hoahaoism - 1.4%

Hoa Hao is a religious based on Buddhism that was established in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ (1920-47). Followers of Hoa Hao consider Huỳnh Phú Sổ to be a prophet and that the religion is the continuation of the Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương folk religion foundered by Đoàn Minh Huyên. Both Sổ and Huyên are also believed to have been living Buddhas and that they are destined to protect the country. The religion places a strong emphasis on temple worship, ordination and stress aid to the poor and helping peasant farmers. Both Buddhism and Hoa Hao are is recognized as one of the six state religions of Vietnam.

Other - 0.1%

Other religions in Vietnam include Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and irreligion.

Religious Beliefs In Vietnam

RankReligionPopulation (Percentage)
1Vietnamese folk religion73.2

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