Religion in Louisville, Kentucky

Religion in Louisville, Kentucky is diverse as the city hosts religious institutions of various faiths; including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.


Roman Catholic Church

There are 135,421 Roman Catholic Louisvillians who are part of the Archdiocese of Louisville, covering 24 counties in central Kentucky, and consisting of 121 parishes and missions spread over 8,124 square miles (21,040 km2).[1] The Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville is the seat of the Archdiocese of Louisville. Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey, the monastic home of Catholic writer Thomas Merton, is in nearby Bardstown, Kentucky and also in the archdiocese. Most of Louisville's Roman Catholic population is of German descent, the result of large-scale 19th-century immigration.

Bellarmine University and Spalding University in Louisville are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Protestant denominations

One in three Louisvillians is Southern Baptist, belonging to one of 147 local congregations.[2] This denomination increased in number when large numbers of people moved into Louisville in the early 20th century from rural Kentucky and Tennessee to work in the city's factories; some of these migrants also formed Holiness and Pentecostal churches and Churches of Christ.

German immigrants in the 19th century brought not only a large Catholic population, but also the Lutheran and Evangelical faiths, which are represented today in Louisville by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the United Church of Christ, respectively.

The city is home to several megachurches. Southeast Christian Church is the 5th largest of the Christian churches in the United States and St. Stephen Baptist Church[3] has the largest African-American congregation and is home to contemporary gospel recording artists Joe Leavell & the St. Stephen Temple Choir.

The city is home to several religious institutions: the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville Bible College, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the denominational headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Louisville is home to the oldest African-American Seventh-day Adventist congregation, Magazine Street Church.

The historic Christ Church Cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, which covers the western part of the state.

Other sects

Louisville has two Eastern Orthodox parishes: Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, and the Antiochian parish, St. Michael the Archangel (with a Chapel, St. George).

The Louisville Kentucky Temple, the 76th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), is located in nearby Crestwood.

The city is also the home of three Unitarian Universalist churches: Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, First Unitarian Church, and Clifton Unitarian Church.


There is a Jewish population of around 8,500 in the city served by five synagogues. Most Jewish families emigrated from Eastern Europe at the start of the 20th century; around 800 Soviet Jews have moved to Louisville since 1991.[4] Jewish immigrants founded Jewish Hospital, which was once the center of the city's Jewish district. In 2005, Jewish Hospital merged with the Catholic healthcare system CARITAS to form the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Healthcare network. On one corner near Bowman field are located the one orthodox synagogue, Shalom Towers, the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family and Career Services.


In 2001, there were an estimated 4,000 to 10,000 practicing Muslims in Louisville attending six local mosques.[5] These mosques include the Westport Mosque, a part of the newly founded Muslim Community Center. The Muslim Community Center includes The Islamic School of Louisville (ISofL), an expanding school located on Old Westport Road. The ISofL is adjacent to the Westport Mosque.


The Hindu temple of Kentucky [6] opened in suburban Louisville in 1999, and had about 125 members and two full-time priests in 2000.[7] The temple was renovated and rededicated in the summer of 2011.[8]


Various Buddhist sanghas and organizations exist in and around the Louisville area. These include: The Louisville Community of Mindful Living (formerly "The Sangha of Louisville"),[9] the Drepung Gomang Institute,[10] the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Louisville,[11] and Soka Gakkai / Nichiren Shoshu.[12]


Taoist practices in Louisville are represented by a local branch [13] of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society.[14]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith has been present in Louisville from the 1920s, with the first Baha'i center opening in 1965. The current Baha'i center, dating to 1999, was designed to accommodate a larger active Baha'i community.[15]


Louisville is home to a strong and vibrant Pagan community, including Wicca and other neopagan religions. There are over 60 Kentucky pagan groups listed at Witchvox, including over a dozen in Louisville.[16] (Witchvox listings are voluntary, and usually represent only a small portion of the local pagan groups. Many or most covens and other pagan groups still prefer to remain private, as a way to avoid religious persecution.) Local networking for Louisville pagans is organized in various ways, not only through local covens and groves, but also through Louisville Pagan Pride,[17] local pagan meetups via,[18] local occult shops such as MoonStruck,[19] and a CUUPS chapter at a local Unitarian church.[20] There was a Pagan Student Union active for years at the University of Louisville, but the club is currently dormant.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ "Data on Catholic residents from the Archdiocese of Louisville". Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  2. ^ Data on Baptist Population from LRA website Long Run Baptist Association
  3. ^ "St. Stephen Baptist Church website". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  4. ^ Smith, Peter (September 28, 2003). "Some synagogues eye broader styles of worship". The Courier-Journal. 
  5. ^ Smith, Peter (November 18, 2001). "ISLAM IN AMERICA; Muslims a diverse presence in Kentucky". The Courier-Journal. 
  6. ^ "Hindu Temple of Kentucky". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  7. ^ Haukebo, Kirsten (December 3, 2000). "Hindu temple greets visitors". The Courier-Journal. 
  8. ^ "Week of celebrations to surround Hindu temple rededication". June 3, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  9. ^ Mark Stein (June 6, 2010). "Louisville Community of Mindful Living". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  10. ^ "Drepung Gomang Institute". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  11. ^ "Center Profile". May 1, 1996. Archived from the original on 2010-02-28. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  12. ^ "Nichiren Shu Buddhist Temple Community, Lexington Kentucky (KY)". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  13. ^ "Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA — Louisville, KY". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  14. ^ "Taoist Tai Chi". Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  15. ^ "About | Bahá'ís of Louisville, Kentucky, Inc". January 1, 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  16. ^ "Kentucky: Adult Run Groups/Orgs". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  17. ^ "Louisville Pagan Pride Day". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  18. ^ "Pagan Meetups near Louisville, Kentucky — Pagan Meetups — Louisville". May 23, 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  19. ^ "Moon Struck Louisville Kentucky's Number One Pagan/Wiccan Store". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  20. ^ "First Unitarian Church-CUUPS". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  21. ^ "Welcome to the Pagan Student Union at The University of Louisville website". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  22. ^ "University of Louisville | Louisville, Kentucky | Tuition: $16072". April 7, 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  23. ^ "Arsenic & Old Lace — Resources — Pagan Student Organizations". Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
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