State religion

religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state

A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious group or creed officially accepted by the state.

Confessional states[a]
  Christianity (unspecified doctrines)
  Islam (unspecified doctrines)

The term state church is used in context with Christianity, and is sometimes used for a specific national branch of Christianity.

Christian countries


The following states recognize some form of Christianity as their state or official religion (by denomination):

Roman Catholic


Jurisdictions which recognize Roman Catholicism as their state or official religion:

Old Catholic


Jurisdictions which recognize an Old Catholic church as their state religion:

Eastern Orthodox


Jurisdictions which recognize one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches as their state religion:











Jurisdictions which recognize a Reformed church as their state religion:

Other Christian


Islamic countries


Countries which recognize Islam as their official religion:

No sect specified


Sunni Islam


Shi'a Islam


Buddhist countries


Governments which recognize Buddhism as their official religion:


  • Israel is defined in several of its laws as a Democratic Jewish state, but has no state or official religion, "Jewish" being treated as a nationality. In other countries the term "Jewish" means either adhering to the Jewish religion (Judaism), or a Jew by descent (inheritance) or both.

Ancient state religions


Egypt and Sumer


The concept of state religions was known as long ago as the empires of Egypt and Sumer, when every city state or people had its own god or gods.

Persian empire


Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Sassanid dynasty which lasted from 226 until 651.

Greek city-states


Many of the Greek city-states also had a 'god' or 'goddess' associated with that city.

Roman Religion and Christianity


When in Rome, the office of Pontifex Maximus was reserved for the emperor, failure to worship him as a god was sometimes punished by death, as the Roman government sought to link emperor worship with loyalty to the Empire. Many Christians and Jews were persecuted, because it was against their beliefs to worship the emperor.

Catholic Christianity, as opposed to Arianism and other heretical and schismatic groups, was declared to be the state religion of the Roman Empire on February 27, 380[29] by the decree De Fide Catolica of Emperor Theodosius I.[30]

Han Dynasty Confucianism and Sui Dynasty Buddhism


In China, the Han Dynasty (206 BC—220 AD) advocated Confucianism as the de facto state religion, establishing tests based on Confucian texts as an entrance requirement into government service.

Established churches and former state churches in Europe

Country Church Denomination Disestablished
Albania1 none since independence
Andorra Roman Catholic Church Catholic ?
Anhalt Evangelical Church of Anhalt Lutheran 1918
Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church Oriental Orthodox 1921
Austria Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1918
Baden Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church of Baden Catholic and Lutheran 1918
Bavaria Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1918
Brunswick-Lüneburg Evangelical Church of Brunswick Lutheran 1918
Bulgaria Bulgarian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1946
Cyprus Cypriot Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1977
Czechoslovakia Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1948
Denmark Church of Denmark Lutheran no
England Church of England Anglican no
Estonia Church of Estonia Lutheran 1940
Finland2 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Lutheran 1870/1919
France3 Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1905
Georgia Georgian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1921
Greece Greek Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox no
Hesse Evangelical Church of Hesse and Nassau Lutheran 1918
Hungary4 Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1848
Iceland Lutheran Evangelical Church Lutheran no
Ireland Church of Ireland Anglican 1869
Italy Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1984
Liechtenstein Roman Catholic Church Catholic
Lippe Church of Lippe Reformed 1918
Lithuania Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1940
Lübeck North Elbian Evangelical Church Lutheran 1918
Luxembourg Roman Catholic Church Catholic
Republic of Macedonia Macedonian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1797
Malta Roman Catholic Church Catholic no
Mecklenburg Evangelical Church of Mecklenburg Lutheran 1918
Monaco Roman Catholic Church Catholic ?
Netherlands Dutch Reformed Church Reformed 1795
Norway Church of Norway Lutheran 2012
Oldenburg Evangelical Church of Oldenburg Lutheran 1918
Paraguay Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1967
Poland Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1918
Portugal Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1976
Prussia 13 provincial churches Lutheran 1918
Romania Romanian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1947
Russia Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Orthodox 1917
Thuringia Evangelical Church in Thuringia Lutheran 1918
Saxony Evangelical Church of Saxony Lutheran 1918
Schaumburg-Lippe Evangelical Church of Schaumburg-Lippe Lutheran 1918
Scotland Church of Scotland Presbyterian no
Serbia and Montenegro Serbian Orthodox Church Eastern
Spain Roman Catholic Church Catholic 1978
Sweden Church of Sweden Lutheran January 2000
Switzerland none since the adoption of the Federal Constitution (1848)
Turkey Sunni Islam Hanafi 1928
Waldeck Evangelical Church of the Hesse Electorate and Waldeck Lutheran 1918
Wales5 Church in Wales Anglican 1920
Württemberg Evangelical Church of Württemberg Lutheran 1918

^Note 1: In 1967, the Albanian government made atheism the "state religion". This designation remained in effect until 1991.

^Note 2: Finland's State Church was the Church of Sweden until 1809.

^Note 3: In France the Concordat of 1801 made the Roman Catholic, Calvinist and Lutheran churches state-sponsored religions, as well as Judaism.

^Note 4: In Hungary the constitutional laws of 1848 declared five established churches on equal status: the Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Unitarian Church. In 1868 the law was ratified again after the Ausgleich. In 1895 Judaism was also recognized as the sixth established church. In 1948 every distinction between the different denominations were abolished.

^Note 5: The Church in Wales was split from the Church of England in 1920 by Welsh Church Act 1914; at the same time becoming disestablished.

Former state churches in British North America


Protestant colonies


Catholic colonies

Colony Denomination Disestablished1
Connecticut Congregational 1818
Georgia Church of England 17892
Massachusetts Congregational 17803
New Brunswick Church of England
New Hampshire Congregational 17904
Newfoundland Church of England
North Carolina Church of England 17765
Nova Scotia Church of England 1850
Prince Edward Island Church of England
South Carolina Church of England 1790
Upper Canada Church of England 1854
West Florida Church of England N/A6
East Florida Church of England N/A7
Virginia Church of England 1786
West Indies Church of England 1868

^Note 1: In several colonies, the establishment ceased to exist in practice at the Revolution, about 1776[source?]; this is the date of legal abolition.

^Note 2: in 1789 the Georgia Constitution was amended as follows: "Article IV. Section 10. No person within this state shall, upon any pretense, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping God in any manner agreeable to his own conscience, nor be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall he ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rate, for the building or repairing any place of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or hath voluntarily engaged. To do. No one religious society shall ever be established in this state, in preference to another; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles."

^Note 3: From 1780 Massachusetts had a system which required every man to belong to a church, and permitted each church to tax its members, and did not require that it be a Congregational church. This was objected to, as in practice establishing the Congregational Church, and was abolished in 1833.

^Note 4: Until 1877 the New Hampshire Constitution required members of the State legislature to be of the Protestant religion.

^Note 5: The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 disestablished the Anglican church, but until 1835 the NC Constitution allowed only Protestants to hold public office. From 1835 to 1876 it allowed allowed only Christians (including Catholics) to hold public office. Article VI, Section 8 of the current NC Constitution forbids only atheists from holding public office.[31] Such clauses were held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, when the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with First and Fourteenth Amendment protections.

^Note 6: Religious Tolerance for Catholics with an Established Church of England were policy in the former Spanish Colonies of East and West Florida while under British rule. East Florida was lost to Spain in 1781.

^Note 7: Religious tolerance for Catholics with an established Church of England were policy in the former Spanish Colonies of East and West Florida while under British rule. East Florida was returned to Spain in 1783.

State of Deseret


The State of Deseret was a provisional state of the United States, proposed in 1849 by Mormon settlers in Salt Lake City. The provisional state existed for slightly over two years.[32]



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