The Philippines is the only Asian nation where Christianity is the official religion. This is most likely the result of Spain’s more than 300-year Catholic rule in The Philippines. Among Filipino Americans, religion continues to play an important role. Over 84% of the Filipino population is Christian. A staggering amount when compared to Christians in some parts of Europe or the United States.
On Open Doors’ annual list of the 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian, the two Asian countries rose. India made its debut in the top 10 of the World Watch List as a growing danger from Hindu nationalism stoked anti-Christian sentiments. China, meanwhile, rose from No. 43 to No. 27 on the list as the Communist government keeps dismantling significant churches and imprisoning Christian leaders.
According to research, 1 in 3 Asian Christians currently face severe persecution for their faith.
1. South Korea: The Rapid Growth of Christianity
South Korea has witnessed a remarkable growth of Christianity in recent decades. With a population of over 51 million people, Christianity has become a significant religious presence in the country. Statistics show that approximately 30% of South Koreans identify as Christians, with around 20,000 churches across the nation.
The influence of Christianity can be seen in various aspects of South Korean society. Many Christian organizations play a vital role in social welfare programs, education, and humanitarian efforts. Christian values and teachings have also shaped the moral and ethical framework of the country, impacting cultural norms and societal behavior.
2. East Timor: A Predominantly Catholic Nation
East Timor stands out as a predominantly Catholic nation in Asia. Over 97% of the population identifies as Christian, with the majority being Roman Catholics. Catholicism has deep historical and cultural roots in East Timor, influencing traditions, celebrations, and everyday life.
The Catholic Church plays a significant role in the country, with churches serving as essential community hubs. The influence of Catholicism can be observed in areas such as education, healthcare, and social development. The strong presence of Catholicism in East Timor has fostered a sense of unity and shared identity among its people.
3. Armenia: The First Christian Nation
Armenia holds the distinction of being the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in the early 4th century. Today, Christianity continues to be deeply embedded in Armenian culture and heritage. Over 92% of the population identifies as Christians, predominantly belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Christianity has played a vital role in shaping Armenian identity, traditions, and values. Churches and monasteries dot the landscape, serving as both religious and cultural landmarks. The Armenian Apostolic Church holds a significant place in the hearts of the Armenian people, preserving their religious heritage and providing a sense of spiritual connection.
4. Georgia: Christianity’s Deep Roots
Georgia, located in the Caucasus region, boasts deep-rooted Christian traditions. Christianity was introduced to Georgia in the 4th century and has since become an integral part of the country’s cultural fabric. Around 85% of Georgians identify as Christians, primarily belonging to the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Christianity has profoundly influenced Georgian society, from its architectural marvels like the UNESCO-listed Gelati Monastery to its vibrant religious festivals and customs. The Georgian Orthodox Church plays a vital role in spiritual guidance, cultural preservation, and social cohesion, with a strong sense of national identity intertwined with Christian beliefs.
5. Lebanon: A Diverse Christian Landscape
Lebanon stands out for its diverse Christian landscape, with various denominations coexisting within its borders. Christians in Lebanon represent a range of denominations, including Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and others. Overall, Christians make up around 35% of the population.
This rich diversity of Christian denominations has contributed to the religious, social, and cultural tapestry of Lebanon. Churches and religious institutions play a central role in the lives of Lebanese Christians, serving as places of worship, education, and community engagement. The presence of multiple Christian denominations fosters a unique atmosphere of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance in the country.
6. India: A Tapestry of Christian Communities
Christianity has a significant presence in India, particularly in the southern state of Kerala and the Northeast region. The Christian population in India accounts for around 2.3% of the country’s total population, with over 28 million Christians.
India’s Christian communities are diverse, encompassing various denominations and traditions. In Kerala, the Syro-Malabar and Malankara Orthodox Churches have ancient roots dating back to the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle. The Northeast region of India is home to vibrant Christian communities, including the Nagas, Mizos, and Khasis, who have embraced Christianity over the years.
7. Indonesia: Christianity in a Muslim-Majority Nation
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, is also home to a significant Christian population. Christians account for approximately 10% of the country’s population, with over 25 million adherents.
Christianity in Indonesia has a diverse presence, with various denominations represented. The growth and spread of Christianity have been notable, particularly in regions such as Papua, North Sulawesi, and parts of Eastern Indonesia. Christian communities in Indonesia contribute to the social fabric and engage in interfaith dialogue and cooperation with their Muslim neighbors.
8. Singapore: Christianity in a Cosmopolitan City
Singapore, known for its multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism, also has a vibrant Christian community. Christians form a significant religious group in Singapore, accounting for around 18% of the population.
The Christian landscape in Singapore is diverse, comprising various denominations, including Protestant, Catholic, and independent churches. The city-state is home to prominent churches and Christian organizations that contribute to both spiritual life and social services. Christians in Singapore actively participate in interfaith initiatives, promoting understanding and cooperation among different religious communities.
9. Hong Kong: Christianity in a Global City
In the bustling global city of Hong Kong, Christianity has a notable presence. Christians make up approximately 12% of the population, with both Protestant and Catholic communities represented.
Hong Kong’s Christian population has played a significant role in shaping the city’s social and educational institutions. Churches, schools, and charities run by Christian organizations contribute to the well-being of the community. The Christian faith has found a place amidst the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Hong Kong, providing spiritual guidance and fostering a sense of community among believers.
10. Malaysia: Christianity in a Multi-Religious Society
Malaysia, a multi-religious and multicultural country, is also home to a diverse Christian community. Christians constitute around 9% of the population, with various denominations and ethnic groups represented.
Christianity in Malaysia faces unique challenges within the context of a predominantly Muslim-majority society. Christians actively participate in interfaith dialogues, promoting mutual respect and understanding. Despite the challenges, Malaysian Christians contribute to the country’s social fabric, engaging in charitable initiatives, education, and healthcare services.
11. Taiwan: The Growth of Christianity
In Taiwan, Christianity has been experiencing significant growth. With over 4% of the population identifying as Christians, the Christian community has made its mark in the country.
Protestantism, Catholicism, and various other Christian traditions are the dominant Christian denominations in Taiwan. Churches and Christian organizations have played a vital role in the growth of Christianity, actively engaging in community outreach programs and providing social services to those in need.
12. Vietnam: Christianity’s Resilience
Christianity has demonstrated remarkable resilience in Vietnam. While the exact percentage of the Christian population is unavailable, it remains a significant and thriving community.
Despite facing challenges and restrictions, Vietnamese Christians have managed to preserve their faith and contribute to society. They have established churches, schools, and social organizations that cater to the needs of their communities. Their resilience serves as an inspiration and testimony to the power of faith.
13. Myanmar: Christianity Among Ethnic Minorities
Christianity has found a stronghold among ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Although the exact percentage is unavailable, the Christian population is predominantly concentrated within these communities.
Ethnic minority groups such as the Kachin, Chin, Karen, and others have embraced Christianity, and it holds great significance in their cultural and religious practices. Christians in Myanmar actively participate in community development projects, education initiatives, and humanitarian efforts, making a positive impact on society.
14. Thailand: Christianity in a Buddhist Culture
Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, is home to a minority Christian population. While the exact percentage is not specified, Christians in Thailand have made notable contributions within the context of a Buddhist culture.
Thai Christians engage in various social endeavors, including education, healthcare, and humanitarian work. They run schools, orphanages, and medical clinics, providing assistance and support to underprivileged communities. Their dedication to serving others reflects the values of compassion and selflessness taught in Christianity.
15. Cambodia: The Reemergence of Christianity
Christianity has experienced a reemergence in Cambodia in recent years. Although the exact percentage of the Christian population is not provided, it is evident that Christianity is growing in the country.
Christian organizations in Cambodia are actively involved in social development projects, education initiatives, and community-building efforts. They collaborate with the government and other stakeholders to address societal challenges and contribute to the well-being of the Cambodian people. The resurgence of Christianity signifies its enduring relevance and impact on the lives of individuals and communities.
16. Philippines: A Strong Catholic Influence
The Philippines stands out for its strong Catholic influence, which has played a significant role in shaping Filipino culture and society. With over 86% of the population identifying as Christians, the country has one of the highest Christian populations in Asia. Catholicism holds a particularly prominent position, with approximately 80% of the Christian population being Catholic. The Catholic Church has been deeply embedded in the fabric of Filipino society, influencing various aspects such as education, social values, and community engagement.
17. Nepal: Christianity in the Himalayas
Nepal, nestled in the Himalayas, is a country where Christianity has found its place among a predominantly Hindu population. Christians make up around 2.3% of Nepal’s total population. Despite being a minority, Nepalese Christians have made significant contributions to the social, educational, and healthcare sectors in the country. They have established schools, hospitals, and organizations that serve the needs of the local communities. Nepalese Christians often face challenges such as societal misconceptions and limited resources, but their resilience and commitment to their faith are noteworthy.
18. Sri Lanka: Christianity Among Religious Diversity
Sri Lanka is known for its religious diversity, with various religious communities coexisting harmoniously. Christians constitute about 7.4% of the population in Sri Lanka. The Christian community in Sri Lanka encompasses both Catholics and Protestants, with each denomination contributing to the spiritual and social development of the country. Sri Lankan Christians have played active roles in areas such as education, healthcare, and social welfare, fostering interfaith dialogue and promoting peace and harmony among different religious groups.
19. Kazakhstan: Christianity in Central Asia
Kazakhstan, located in Central Asia, has a notable Christian presence. Christians make up about 26% of the population in Kazakhstan, with various Christian denominations represented. The growth of Christianity in Kazakhstan has been significant in recent years, with churches being established and Christians actively participating in religious life. Christians in Kazakhstan face challenges, including cultural and societal pressures, but their commitment to their faith remains strong.
20. Japan: Christianity in a Shinto and Buddhist Society
Japan, renowned for its traditional Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, also has a Christian presence, albeit relatively small. Christians constitute less than 2% of the population in Japan. Christianity arrived in Japan in the 16th century and has had a historical and cultural impact on the country. Japanese Christians have contributed to fields such as education, social services, and interfaith dialogue. Their presence demonstrates the diversity of religious beliefs in Japan and the ability of different faiths to coexist peacefully.
The top 20 Christian countries in Asia represent a diverse range of Christian communities, each contributing to the religious and cultural landscape of their respective countries. From the strong Catholic influence in the Philippines to the growth of Christianity in countries like Kazakhstan, these nations showcase the vibrancy and resilience of Christian faith in Asia. The contributions of Christians to various sectors, including education, healthcare, and social services, are commendable. As we celebrate the diversity of religious beliefs, let us continue to foster understanding, respect, and harmony among different faith traditions in Asia and beyond.