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Religious Minorities

In 2013, one could count in Italy 836 religious and spiritual minorities operating in an organized fashion were counted (CESNUR report). Over the last 10–15 years, the image of minority religions in Italy has profoundly changed, both from a quantitative point of view and because of the presence of new actors on the national scene. Currently, a sharp increase in religious faiths other than Catholicism can be observed; with the continuous flow of foreign immigrants into Italy (particularly from North Africa and Eastern European countries (see 2013 Statistics), the importance and internal composition of the minority religions present in the country is consequently changing. This concerns primarily Muslims, and secondly, Orthodox Christians immigrating from Eastern Europe, as well as Hindus, Buddhists, followers of the Sikh and Radhasoami religions, a notable Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal, and Baptist presence (from China, Korea, the Philippines, and Sub-Saharan Africa), and members of the Coptic Church. If we consider only Italian citizens, including naturalized ones, a percentage of 2.5% of the total resident population profess a non-Catholic religious identity. If we consider all residents within the Italian territory, the percentage of religious minorities increases to 7.6%.

76% of Italians claim to be believers, 15% are atheists and non-believers, 4-5% say they are “searching something”. Out of all the Italians declaring themselves Catholic (79% of the population), 22% define themselves as “convinced and active from a religious point of view”, 32% consider themselves “convinced but not always active”, 35% adhere to Catholicism for traditional or educational reasons, and 7–8% because they share its fundamental ideas even if they interpret them in an autonomous and subjective way (See "Gli Italiani, la religione, la Bibbia").

Jewish 40.000
Historical Protestants 60.000
Pentecostal evangelicals 300.000
Other evangelicals 50.000
Immigrant Evangelicals (Ethnic Churches) 300.000
Orthodox 1.400.000
Jehovah’s Witnesses 400.000
Mormons 25.000
Islam 1.500.000
Hinduists 135.000
Buddhists 100.000
Sikh 30.000
Baha’I 3.000
Total 4.343.000 (tot. Population: 61.482.297)

Source: Brunetto Salvarani, “I (difficili) numeri delle religioni in Italia”, in A. Melloni (ed.), Rapporto sull’analfabetismo religioso, Il Mulino 2014, p. 390.

D 16 July 2015    AMariachiara Giorda

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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