Reliable data on the exact numbers of practitioners of major religions is not available. However, most sources estimate that the population is 60% Muslim, 30% Christian, and 10% practitioners of traditional indigenous religions. Muslims were traditionally concentrated in the northern part of the country, and Christians in the south. However, an ongoing civil war has prompted relocation by large masses of the population. Reportedly, many syncretic practices exist, with up to 20% of the populace practicing a mixture of either Muslim or Christianity with traditional indigenous religions.
The Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (RUF/AFRC) insurgent groups have plotted against Christian and Muslim religious leaders because of their positions in the religious community and their support for the government. During the January 1999 RUF/AFRC invasion, which took place during Ramadan, the Freetown populace was terrorized and deprived of religious freedom. Muslims found praying in mosques were forced to consume alcoholic beverages; those who refused were beaten. Others reportedly were shot and killed. Three churches and two mosques were set on fire and burned down. Rebel forces have targeted Roman Catholic nuns and priests in particular, one reason being the RUF/AFRC assumption that the Catholic Church would pay a ransom. However, in a 2002 report, this type of abduction had abated and it has been determined that some church leaders were targeted for their peacekeeping activities in civil society, not because of their religious affiliation.