World Christian Database: religions and Christian traditions

Data source: Gina A. Zurlo and Todd M. Johnson, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2023).

Religion Definition
Baha'is Followers of the Bahai World Faith, founded in 1844 by Bahaullah in what is now Iran.
Buddhists Followers of the Buddha, mostly across Asia, including three main traditions: (a) Mahayana (Greater Vehicle); (b) Theravada (Teaching of the Elders); (c) Tibetan (Lamaists); plus (d) traditional Buddhist sects, but excluding neo-Buddhist new religions or religious movements.
Chinese folk-religionists Followers of indigenous religions of China, representing an amalgamation of beliefs and practices that can include: universism (yin/yang cosmology with dualities earth/heaven, evil/good, darkness/light), worship of ancestors/gods/goddesses/spirits, divination, sacrifices, and elements from Taoism, Confucianism, neo-Confucianism, and/or Buddhism.
Christians Followers of Jesus Christ, including: (a) Catholics; (b) Protestants; (c) Orthodox; (d) Independents; and (e) unaffiliated.
unaffiliated Christians Persons professing allegiance and commitment to Christ but who have no church affiliation.
Orthodox In 4 traditions: Eastern (Chalcedonian), Oriental (Pre-Chalcedonian, Non-Chalcedonian, Monophysite), Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorian), and non-historical Orthodox.
Catholics All Christians in communion with the Church of Rome, also known as Roman Catholics. Affiliated Catholics are defined here as baptized Catholics plus catechumens.
Protestants Christians in churches originating in, or reformulated at the time of, or in communion with, the Western worlds 16th-century Protestant Reformation in European languages usually called Evangéliques (French), Evangelische (German), Evangélicos (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), though not usually Evangelicals (in English).
Independents Christians who identify as independent of the major Christian traditions (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant). Independent of historic, organised, institutionalized and denominationalist Christianity.
doubly-affiliated Christians Persons who are baptized members of 2 or more denominations at the same time.
Movements A cover term for groups within Christianity that overlap the major traditions (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Independent) and are therefore counted separately. The largest are the Evangelical and the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements.
Evangelicals Churches, denominations, and individuals who identify themselves as evangelicals by membership in denominations linked to evangelical alliances (e.g., World Evangelical Alliance) or by self-identification in polls.
Pentecostals/Charismatics Shorthand term for Pentecostal/Charismatic/Independent Charismatic.
Confucianists Non-Chinese followers of the teachings of Confucius and Confucianism. Sometimes spelt Confucians.
Daoists Followers of the philosophical, ethical, and religious traditions of China, sometimes regarded as part of Chinese folk-religion. Also spelt Taoists.
ethnic religionists Followers of local religions tied closely to specific ethnic groups, typically in Africa, with membership restricted to those groups; sometimes termed animists, polytheists, or shamanists. Older terminology: pagans, heathens, tribal religionists, traditional religionists.
Hindus Followers of the main Hindu traditions: Vaishnavism; Shaivism; Shaktism; neo-Hindu movements and modern sects; and other Hindu reform movements.
Jains Followers of the two Jain traditions, Svetambara and Digambara; originating in India as a reform movement from Hinduism in the 5th or 6th century BCE.
Jews Followers of the various schools of Judaism: in the United States: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform; in Israel: Haredi, Orthodox, Traditional, Observant, and secular; ethnically, Ashkenazi (Eastern Europe), Mizrahi (Middle Eastern), Sephardic (Iberian Peninsula), and various African ethnicities.
Muslims Followers of Islam, in two primary branches: (a) Sunni; and (b) Shia. Other, significantly smaller, branches include Kharijite, Sanusi, Mahdiya, Ahmadiya, Druzes, and Sabbateans.
New religionists Followers of the so-called New Religions of Asia, mostly founded after 1945. Mainly Hindu or Buddhist sects/offshoots, or new syncretistic religions combining Christianity with Eastern religions. Sometimes termed Neoreligionists.
Shintoists Followers of the indigenous religion of Japan, a collective of native beliefs and mythology dating back to 660 BCE and includes worship at public shrines in devotion to a number of gods.
Sikhs Followers of the Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak in the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Traditions include Akali, Khalsa, Nanapanthi, Nirmali, Sewapanthi, and Udasi.
Spiritists Non-Christian spiritists or spiritualists, or thaumaturgicalists; high spiritists, as opposed to low spiritists (Afro-American syncretists), followers of medium-religions, medium-religionists.
Zoroastrians Followers of a religion founded in Persia in 1200 BCE by the prophet Zoroaster, teaching the worship of Ahura Mazda; mainly in India (where they are known as Parsis) and Iran.
agnostics Persons who claim no religion or claim that it is not possible to know if God, gods, or the supernatural exist.
atheists Persons who deny the existence of God, gods, or the supernatural.
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Data on 18 categories of religion, including non-religious, by country, province, and people.

Countries and regions

Data on all religions, Christian activities, and trends.


Membership data, year begun, and rates of change.

Cities & provinces

Population and religion data on all major cities & provinces.

Peoples & languages

Detailed information covering religion, culture, and geography.


A repository of historical data, including a chronology of Christianity from the 1st to 21st centuries.