Several of the smaller Christian churches claim to have higher numbers of adherents, but there is no independent confirmation. Persons with no religious affiliation account for less than 1% of the population.Members of the Catholic Church are concentrated in the northern islands, while Protestants are the majority in the southern islands.
Missionaries introduced Christianity into the area in the mid-19th century.They are currently present and operate freely.
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. Societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice occur, but are relatively infrequent.
The only substantial non-Christian population is of the Bah; Faith. The Ba Faith in Kiribati begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bah, then head of the religion, that Bahs should take the religion to the Gilbert Islands which form part of modern Kiribati. The first Bahs pioneered to the island of Abaiang(aka Charlotte Island, of the Gilbert Islands), on March 4, 1954.
They encountered serious opposition from some Catholics on the islands and were eventually deported and the first convert banished to his home island. However in one year there was a community of more than 200 Bahs and a Bah Local Spiritual Assembly.Three years later the island where the first convert was sent to was found to now have 10 Bahs. By 1963 there were 14 assemblies.
As the Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu and the Gilbert Islands and others formed Kiribati, the communities of Bahs also reformed into separate institutions of National Spiritual Assemblies in 1981.
The Bahs had established a number schools by 1963 and there are still such today - indeed the Ootan Marawa Bah Vocational Institute being the only teacher training institution for pre-school teachers in Kiribati.
The census figures are consistently between 2 and 3% for the Bahs while the Bahs claim numbers above 17%. All together the Bahs now claim more than 10,000 local people have joined the religion over the last 50 years and there are 38 local spiritual assemblies.