Democratic Republic of the Congo
Section I. Religious Demography
The U.S. government estimates the total population at 85.3 million (July 2018 estimate). The Pew Research Center estimates 95.8 percent of the population is Christian, 1.5 percent Muslim, and 1.8 percent report no religious affiliation (2010 estimate). Of Christians, 48.1 percent are Protestant, including evangelical Christians and the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimbangu (Kimbanguist), and 47.3 percent Catholic. Other Christian groups include the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Greek Orthodox Church. There are small communities of Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Baha’is, and followers of indigenous religious beliefs. Muslim leaders estimate their community to comprise approximately 5 percent of the population.
A significant portion of the population combines traditional beliefs and practices with Christianity or other religious beliefs.
Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom
Members of the Kamuina Nsapu antigovernment militia in the Kasai region attacked and targeted Catholic Church property, schools, and clergy, according to Church sources. In Kasai, Kasai Central, and Kasai Oriental Provinces, the Catholic Church reported threats and attacks against the Church by unidentified assailants believed to be members of the Kamuina Nsapu, other armed groups, or government security forces. In September in Kananga in Kasai Central Province, Kananga Catholic Archbishop Marcel Madila stated there was “deep fear and insecurity” throughout Kasai Central Province after a rash of robberies and assaults targeting nuns, parishes, and civilians. Archbishop Madila reported four attacks against nuns in Bena Mukangala, Kambote, Malole, and Tshilumba. In North Kivu on April 8, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Father Etienne Nsengiunva in Kyahemba.
On April 1, in Kihondo in North Kivu, unidentified armed men abducted Father Celestin Ngango after Mass and demanded a ransom. He was released one week later.
Some religious leaders reported continued tensions between Christian and Muslim communities in the north but also signs of improved relations in the eastern part of the country linked to the government’s ongoing fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). On November 27, for example, both Muslim and Christian leaders peacefully marched in Beni expressing their support for joint offensive operations against the ADF.
In Budjala in Sud Ubangi Province, Voice of America reported that on March 30, Christians burned a mosque and the home of a man who allegedly killed a Christian man he caught in a sexual relationship with his wife.
Leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reported generally positive relations with the rest of the community but noted that 21 cases of assault on or suspected killings of Jehovah’s Witnesses dating from as early as 2015 were languishing in the court system or never sent to court for criminal prosecution after the arrests of suspects. They also reported three assaults during the year that they stated were due to their religious beliefs in rural areas of Wapinda, Equateur Province, Luono, Kwango Province, and Fube, Katanga Province.
In South Kivu Province, Muslims in the Katana area said they had not received funds to rebuild their mosque after it was burned down in October 2016, despite a promise in November 2016 from the former governor of South Kivu to provide funds to rebuild the mosque.