The phenomenon of religion in Poland makes the country what it is.
And it’s important to note that there’s so much more to religion in Poland than the Catholic Church.
Nearly every Polish city is home to a church, but there are thousands that also have synagogues, mosques, temples or other places of worship.
Various religions have helped bring the country together in times of need, kick out oppressors, and aided those from far off lands to find something in common with the locals.
Poland’s broad religious beliefs have made it one of the best places to live in Europe for people from all parts of the world. It’s also fostered many religions holidays in Poland – like the one based on eating donughts.
Today, Poland’s religion demographics are broad and diverse, as you’d expect from a major European nation.
The various faiths in Poland add different colours and shades to what the country stands for, who the people are and what they do in life.
This article, which will be data-backed in design, will culminate Poland’s religion demographics with data sourced from GUS (Poland’s national statistics office), the latest census data, statistics and many other reliable sources.
Let’s dive in.
Religion in Poland: Protected by law
At the beginning of the 21st century, various religions operate under the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland on the freedom of conscience and religion and the Act on Guarantees of Freedom of Conscience and Religion of May 17 1989.
The white of the Polish flag is said to represent the white purity of the country after it was baptised.
- Catholic Church
- Jewish Religious Union
- Eastern Old Believers’ Church
- Muslim Religious Union (mostly Tartars and Arab traders)
- Karaite Religious Union
- Evangelical-Augsburg Church
- Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The census of 1931 showed that the largest 5 religious groups in Poland were:
- Roman Catholics (64.8%)
- Orthodox (11.8%)
- Greek Catholics (10.4%)
- followers of Judaism (9.8%)
- Protestants (2.6%)
This represented over 99% of the population. The changes that took place after World War II resulted in Poland becoming a largely homogenous country in terms of religion, with Catholics making up to 86% of the population.
This state of affairs was influenced by several historical events:
- The loss of the Eastern Borderlands (Kresy Wschodnie) inhabited largely by Orthodox Christians
- The deportation of Protestants from the Western and Northern Territories
- The murder of almost the entire Jewish population by the Nazis
- The emigration to Germany of further groups of people, mainly Protestants, from the Western and Northern Territories as a result of state repressions
- The emigration after the March 1968 political crisis of the Jewish population that had survived World War II
Soon after World War II, 4 religious associations were registered:
- Methodist Church
- Polish Catholic Church
- Union of Seventh-day Adventist churches
- Polish Evangelical Baptist Church
Basic statistics on religion in Poland in 2022
GUS data taken in 2011 states the most common religions are:
Catholicism – 86.9% (mainly Roman Catholic Church – 86.7%, Greek Catholic Church – 0.14%, Old Catholicism – 0.12%)
Orthodoxy – 1.31% (mainly the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church – 1.31%)
Protestantism – 0.38% (mainly Lutherans and Reformed Evangelicals – 0.18%, Pentecostals – 0.09%, other Evangelical Christians – 0.07%, Adventists and other groups – 0.04%)
Jehovah’s Witnesses – 0.34%
Buddhism – approx. 0.04% Islam6. – 0.013%
Native believers/Paganism – approx. 0.01%
Judaism – 0.004%
According to a 2014 Gallup Institute survey, Poland is among the most religious countries in Europe.
In minority denominations, there is in principle no significant increase in the number of members. However, the criteria to be recognised as a follower of the Catholic Church or the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church are not strict.
This survey also shows that there was a clear increase in the group of people broadly defined as non-religious for the period 2004-2014.
Religious communities in Poland
- Catholic Church in Poland (Roman Catholic, Latin) – 32,440,722 baptised (2020)
- The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church – 156,000 faithful (2011 census) or 503,996 (2020PAKP data)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland – 114,899 preachers (2020)
- Evangelical Augsburg Church in Poland (Lutheran) – 60,900 faithful (2020)
- Muslim League in Poland (Sunni) – 35,000 faithful (2018)
- The Greek Catholic Church in Poland – 33,000 faithful (2011 census) or 55,000 (2020 declaration)
- Pentecostal Church – 24,840 faithful (2020)
- Mariavite Old Catholic Church in Poland – 22,691 faithful (2020)
- Polish Catholic Church in Poland – 18,116 faithful (2020)
- Seventh-day Adventist Church – 9838 faithful (2020)
- Diamond Way Buddhist Association – 8284 (2011 census)
- Church of Christ – 6645 (2020)
- Ahl-ul-Bayt Islamic Assembly (Shiite) – 6034 (2020)
- Baptist Church – 5470 (2020)
- The New Apostolic Church in Poland – 5257 (2020)
- The Church of God in Christ – 5023 (2020)
- Evangelical Methodist Church – 4443 (2020)
- Indigenous Polish Church (Polish Pagans) – approx 4000 (2011 census)
- Evangelical Reformed Church – 3200 (2020)
- Free Christian Church in Poland – 3045 (2020)
- Church of God in Poland – 2826 (2020)
- National Catholic Church in Poland – 2791 (2018)
- International Society for Krishna Consciousness – 2612 (2020)
- Buddhist Mission – 2560 (2008)
- Evangelical Christian Church in Poland – 2357 (2020)
- Buddhist Association of the Karma Kamtzang – 2146 (2020)
- Mariavite Catholic Church – 1831 (2020)
- Union of Jewish Religious Communities – 1795 (2020)
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 1657 (2020)
- Pentecostal Christian Fellowship – 1588 (1994)
- Association of Free Bible Students – 1581 (2020)
- Eastern Old Believers’ Church – 1402 (2020)
- Armenian Catholic Church – 670 (2020)
- Chaitanya Mission – 669 (2020)
- Old Orthodox Church of the Old Believers – 600 (2020)
- Evangelical Pentecostal Community – 589 (2020)
- Muslim Religious Union in the Republic of Poland (Tartar) – 510 (2020)
- Association of Christian Churches in Poland – 447 (2020)
- International School of the Golden Rosicrucian “Lectorum Rosicrucianum” – 395 (2020)
- Ajapa Yoga Association (Adjapayoga) – 342 (2020)
- Baha’i – 335 (2020)
- Christ for all (Chrystus dla wszystkich) – 327 (2005)
- Saturday Day Christian Church – 314 (2020)
- Old Catholic Church – 257 (2020)
- Agape Evangelical – 250 (2018)
- Canaan Christianity – 216 (2019)
- Association of Bible Students in Poland – 204 (2020)
- Union of Progressive Jewish Communities (Beit Polska) – 200 (2016)
- Unitarianism – 200 (2018)
- The Assemblies of Standing Christians in Poland – 180 (2020)
- Karaim Religious Union in Poland – 155 (2020)
- The Quinarist Religious Union – 146 (1997)
- Messianic Assemblies of God (Seventh Day) – 142 (2020)
- Catholic Church in Poland of the Byzantine- Slavonic rite (neo- Orthodox) – 121 (2020)
- The Buddhist Community “Zen Kannon” – 121 (2020)
- Salvation Army Church – 112 (2018)
There are hundreds of other smaller religious denominations that are registered and recognised in Poland, but many of them haven’t completed census data in the last 20 years and are no longer functioning regularly.
It’s not uncommon to see a picture of Jesus, Mary of Częstochowa or other religious imagery in many private residences. Like the Polish Eagle, symbolism is an important way to represent pride and faith in Poland.
The Swastika is a symbol of hot debate in Poland – and, obviously in most of the world.
In modern times, it’s a symbol of hatred, fascism
and murder. But to many Buddist, it’s a symbol of peace and tranquillity.
Displaying the swastika in a way that promotes Nazi and Fascist political ideals is banned in Poland and an arrestable offence. For Buddhists in Poland, displaying the swastika as part of their faith is widely accepted.
Religious Beliefs in Surveys in Poland
According to a 2010 Eurobarometer survey, the responses of Polish residents to questions on faith were as follows:
- 79% – “I believe in the existence of God”
- 14% – “I believe in the existence of some kind of spirit or life force”
- 5% – “I do not believe in any kind of spirit, God or life force”
- 2% – “I do not know”.
Only three European countries have a higher percentage of believers in God: Malta 94%, Romania 92% and Cyprus 88%, with a European average of 51%.
In 2018, a study by the Pew Research Centre was published in which Poland was found to have the world’s largest gap in religiosity (aka, the importance of religion in life) between the age group 18-39 and 40above.
The difference amounts to 23 percentage points. It is even greater (29%) if speaking about participation in religious services – 26% of adults under the age of 40 report attending religious services weekly, compared to 55% of those aged 40and over.
Religion in Poland, as you can see from the list and history above, is broad and diverse. While there’s one clearly dominant belief, the country’s history is slathered in a wide range of beliefs, faiths and doctrines.