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Benin PDF Print E-mail
Religious Freedom Ranking:
4 out of 5 stars: Good


Benin is known as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. There are many different political parties and the country claims to have a strong, civil society. There is a wide range of culture due to Benin’s history as part of the Slave Coast. Voodoo, once banned in the country, is now recognized as an official religion, and is celebrated as a national holiday.

The government is currently a republic under multiparty democratic rule. Marxism-Leninism was dropped in December 1989 and democratic reforms were adopted in February 1990. A transition to a multiparty system was completed in April 1991. According to US State Department reports (see link below), the constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government respects this right in practice. The constitutional court determines the legal guidelines that religious groups and the state must follow. In recent years, the court ruled that it was illegal to prevent people from accessing religious premises, and that religious discussion and debate is protected free speech.

Benin has a population of 8.8 million people. According to the country’s most recent census in 2002, 27 percent of the country is Roman Catholic, 24 percent are Muslim (the majority Sunni with a minority Shi’a population), 17 percent are practitioners of Voodoo, six percent are followers of traditional indigenous beliefs, and five percent are Celestial Christians. Groups that comprise less than five percent of the population each are Methodists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rosicrucians, members of the Unification Church, Eckankar, Baha’is, Baptists, Assemblies of God, and Pentecostals. Seven percent claimed no religious beliefs. Many people that practice Christianity or Islam do so in conjunction with Voodoo or other traditional indigenous beliefs.

Religious groups are required to register with the government. Registration requirements are the same for any group. The US State Department reports that there have been no denials of registration and no unusual delays for groups registering.

Church and state are separate in Benin, and public schools are not allowed to give religious instruction. However, religious groups are permitted to run private schools.

There are no reports of abuse, either from the government or within society, towards religious groups or individuals.


2011 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Benin

Benin - New World Encyclopedia

Benin Country Profile- BBC News