The largest Protestant denomination is Anglican (Episcopal). In 1989 about 4 million Ugandans, or roughly 22 percent of the population, belonged to the nineteen dioceses of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Other Protestant churches, including Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and a small Bahai congregation, together had fewer than 1 million members. About 5 million Roman Catholics (roughly 28 percent of the population) were members of the thirteen Catholic dioceses in Uganda. The Catholic and Anglican archbishops and other church leaders were Ugandans.
The first Christian missionaries represented the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) and arrived in Buganda in 1877. Roman Catholic priests from the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), a French religious order, arrived two years later. These and later Catholic and Protestant missions competed for converts in southern Uganda and became embroiled in local politics. British and German military commanders organized Protestant and Catholic converts to defend imperial interests against each other and against Muslim armies. Many early converts to Christianity were persecuted by local rulers, and nineteenthcentury martyrs were commemorated in shrines in several places in southern Uganda.
After the victories of Protestant armies in the conflicts of the 1890s in southern Uganda, membership in the Anglican church was a requirement for each kabaka of Buganda. The Anglican Cathedral on Namirembe Hill near Kampala became the site of the kabaka's coronation. (A Roman Catholic cathedral was built on nearby Rubaga Hill in 1925.) When Protestant Baganda formed the political party Kabaka Yekka (KY) to press for autonomy for Buganda at independence, Catholics formed the Democratic Party (DP) to oppose the parochial interests of the KY. The DP also won support in areas where opposition to Buganda was high, and other political parties organized in reaction to KY and DP demands. Religion continued to be a factor in national politics through the first three decades of independence.
|Country Studies main page | Uganda Country Studies main page | Celebrity|