Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 19-country survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, reveals that the vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to Christianity or Islam, and yet many continue to practice elements of traditional African religions. And while many Muslims and Christians describe members of the other faith as tolerant and honest, there are clear signs of tensions and divisions between the faiths. The survey, conducted with generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is based on more than 25,000 face-to-face interviews in more than 60 languages or dialects in 19 countries, representing 75% of the total population of sub-Saharan Africa. This report is part of a larger effort – the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project – that analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

Explore the report using the resources below.

Quick Links

Full Report Explore the preface, executive summary, report chapters and appendices.
Interactive Database Delve into public opinion on various religion-related topics.
Press Release (Available in English (PDF),  Français (PDF) & Português (PDF))

Press Conference Call

Audio Recording Listen to Pew Forum experts discuss the new survey during an April 15 press conference call.
Transcript Peruse the written transcript of the conference call.

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Download the Full Report

Executive Summary (Available in EnglishFrançaisPortuguês)
Chapter 1: Religious Affiliation
Chapter 2: Commitment to Christianity and Islam
Chapter 3: Traditional African Religious Beliefs and Practices
Chapter 4: Interreligious Harmony and Tensions
Chapter 5: Religion and Society
Appendix A: Glossary of Terms
Appendix B: Religious Demography
Appendix C: Survey Methodology
Appendix D: Topline: Questionnaire and Survey Results
Full Topline


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Selected Press Coverage

Ten things we have learnt about Africa

Here are 10 things we have learnt from the Pew Forum study, which surveyed 25,000 people in 19 countries.

Africans among world’s most religious people, study finds

At least half of all Christians in sub-Saharan Africa believe Jesus will return to Earth in their lifetime — part of a pattern that indicates the region is among the most religious places in the world, according to a huge new study.

Islam, Christianity and Africa: A beacon of faiths

In almost any discussion of religion and Africa, stereotypes recur. Depending on where they have been, outsiders portray the continent either as an arena of looming conflict between rival faiths–or else as a happy-go-lucky world where different beliefs can easily co-exist, sometimes in the same person’s head.

Africans worried about future religious conflict

More than a quarter of people in sub-Saharan Africa worry about future conflict along religious lines, though concerns in Rwanda and Nigeria are even higher, according to a new survey on religious attitudes released Thursday.

Africa goes to church, the mosque and the witch doctor

In his cramped hut at the end of an alleyway in the coastal Tanzanian town of Bagamoyo, traditional healer Dr Msilo treats patients with a variety of mental and physical problems.

Survey finds one-quarter of Africans fear religious conflict

More than half the population in Nigeria and Rwanda fear future bloodshed along religious lines – so says new research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But it says on the whole Christians and Muslims across Africa view one another favorably.

Faith in Africa

A new Pew Forum survey on religion in Africa breaks ground on how far Abrahamic faiths have spread on the continent and how it has dramatically shaped societies there.

Sub-Saharan Africa one of the world’s most religious places

A continent that was more known for tribal shamans than for steeples and minarets has, in just 110 years, become one of the world’s most religiously devout regions, according to the Pew Forum.

Survey finds Africa is most religious part of world

Researchers say they’ve found the most religious place on Earth — between the southern border of the Sahara Desert and the tip of South Africa.

Christian and Muslim beliefs in Africa: Lessons for U.S. foreign policy

If I told you there was a part of the world where large populations of Christians and Muslims say they are getting along pretty well, where majorities would like to make the Bible or the Quran the law of the land, and where most people believe they are living in a generation that will experience profound religious change, would you call that fiction?

US study sheds light on Africa’s unique religious mix

In the space of a century, Africa has morphed from a continent dominated by traditional beliefs to one where the majority of people are Christian or Muslim, a US study showed Thursday.

Christians, Muslims almost equal in numbers in Africa

A continent once known more for witchcraft than worship has become a stronghold – and a flash point – for the world’s two largest religions, the Pew Forum said in a survey released Thursday.

Many African Christians, Muslims Hold ‘Apocalyptic’ Beliefs

A significant number of Christians and Muslims in Africa hold end times beliefs, a new study finds.

Belief in witchcraft widespread among Christians: survey

A quarter of Kenyans believe in witchcraft even though they are deeply religious, a survey shows. They also believe that the world will end in the next 39 years.

Six million Ugandans believe in witchcraft- report

Two out of every 10 Ugandans – about six million people – believe in witchcraft or the protective power of sacrifices to spirits or ancestors, a survey shows.

Photo credit: Sebastien Desarmaux/GODONG/Godong/Corbis

Part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project