Contemporary Hawaiian Religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Mormonism, and more…

Hawaiian Religion

Hawaii is very different from anywhere else in the United States of America. This is not just true in the climate (60-90 F, year-round), the population demographics (only majority Asian state), or the location (not located in North America) – but also in terms of the religious beliefs and practices.

The ancient religion of the Hawaiians is mostly gone, though some practitioners practice something similar. The top religion in Hawaii wavers between Buddhism and Christianity depending on which data you look at. In the case where Christianity is defined as any religion that views Jesus as the son of God – it is a clear majority.  Buddhism is defined as any religion that considers the teachings of the Buddha as the main source of inspiration. So, Christianity based religions will include Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, Protestants, Catholics, Quakers, and many other small sects. Buddhism will include Mahayana, Thereveda, Soka Gakkai, Zen, and secular Buddhist organizations.

Hawaiian Religion

Interestingly, on the most recent census data I was able to find where religion was a question – close to 60% claimed no religion – making ‘none of the above’ or ‘no answer’ or ‘no religion’ the dominant choice. So, when looking at the Buddhist/Christian majority, it is good to keep in mind that in general this is no more than 20% of each.

Hawaiian Religion

As a guide, the breakdown that I usually share is the following – among those who claim a religious faith (40% of the population) – roughly

20% Catholicism

19% Mormonism

18% Protestant

22% Buddhism

5% Shinto

3% Jewish

3% Muslim

2% Hindu

10% Pagan, Indigenous, & Other (including B’ahai, Sihkism, Zoroastarianism

Hawaiian Religion

It’s important to note that the breakdown above does not include 60% of the population who claim no particular religious affiliation. So, when looking at the true breakdown:

60% No religious preference

22% Christian based religions

18% Non-Christian based religions

Hawaiian Religion

There is no other state or city in the USA which has demographics like that. When you come to Hawaii, you can visit Buddhist temples for morning chanting, have lunch in a Hindu temple, visit the Kauaihao Church (protestant), and then go to evening mass at the Saint Damien church and then head to Laie to go to the Mormon temple the next day.

Hawaiian Religion

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