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Founding Religion (Civ5)

Religion is a feature introduced to Civilization V in the Gods & Kings expansion pack. A religion consists of a series of Beliefs, which provide gameplay bonuses. Whilst a religion can be beneficial to your civilization, there is no victory condition related to religion.

Religion is related to the Faith Faith yield. For more information on it, see this article.

There are 11 named religions to choose from (13 in Brave New World). These religions, however, are no more than the icons that represent them - it doesn't matter which one you pick because you have to customize it at your own will. You can even change the name, if you like.

The Path to Religion[]

Religion doesn't exist at the start of a game (unlike Culture Culture and Science Science, which start developing immediately after settling the Capital Capital). It has to be created first, and then formed by selecting Beliefs for it. The way to do this lies through accumulation of Faith Faith.

Beliefs are the practical effects of religions and pantheons, selected when they are founded or enhanced. Each belief is unique and may only be selected by one religion/pantheon in the game - thus each religion/pantheon is distinct from all others and has no overlapping effects.

The only civilization able to generate Faith Faith on turn one is the Celts. Their unique ability nets them +1 Faith Faith in any city with an adjacent unimproved forest tile and +2 in a city with three unimproved forest tiles. Because their starting bias places them near forests, you'll always start producing Faith Faith from turn 1. On Quick game speed, you should be founding your pantheon within 5 to 10 turns after startup. The Celts' unique unit, the Pictish Warrior, is able to generate Faith Faith equal to half the Melee strength Combat Strength of any unit it kills.

Founding a Pantheon[]

Pantheons are simple, proto-religious Beliefs, centered on gods which are related to many natural phenomena. When enough Faith Faith has been accumulated by a civilization, it may be spent to found a pantheon. A pantheon allows for one Pantheon Belief to be chosen. Each successive pantheon founded in the world costs more Faith Faith (+5 per Pantheon) to found.

Pantheon Beliefs are chosen from a common pool for all civilizations, which means that, once chosen by someone, a Pantheon isn't available anymore to the others. So, when founding a Pantheon, speed is important for you to be able to choose from a wider pool of Beliefs. The best thing about pantheons is that they have many bonuses based on terrain, allowing you to use your starting terrain to your advantage in the early game. Additionally, pantheons such as Desert Folklore can effectively give you a free religion by allowing you to produce abundant Faith Faith from terrain without the need to build Shrines or Temples.

After adopting a Pantheon, all your current and future cities will automatically acquire your Pantheon Belief, until you found a full-fledged Religion. This merits noting, because the same doesn't happen with a full Religion (see below).

Pantheons may not be founded anymore once any religion in the world has been enhanced (unless there are still fewer pantheons than the maximum number of religions, in which case they still can). Whereas in most games all civilizations in play are able to found a Pantheon, it is theoretically possible for this not to happen if one civilization progresses too fast towards a full religion while the others dally.

Founding a Religion[]

After you have founded a pantheon, a Great Prophet will eventually appear (through further Faith Faith accumulation, or from completing Wonders). It has the special ability to "Found a Religion" - use it to create your own! Note the Prophet must be in one of your cities to activate this ability, and doing so will consume it.

The , each turn, to spawn a Great Prophet costing Faith Faith, having accrued Faith Faith, is


However, if a civilization has not founded a religion and there are no religions left to found, a Great Prophet will not spawn in that civilization.

Note that spawning a Great Prophet will consume all your accumulated Faith Faith, not only for the first one, but for each one until you enter the Industrial Era. Consider this when choosing whether to spend your Faith Faith or wait for a Great Prophet. Sometimes an "accidental" Great Prophet spawn could in fact hamper your plans.

The founding of a religion consists of the following steps:

  • Selecting an icon and a name for your religion. You may choose among the contemporary religious symbols available and the real-world name related to it, or you can type a new name of your own.
  • Selecting one Founder belief.
  • Selecting one Follower belief.

These two new Beliefs are then added to your Pantheon belief for the formation of your new Religion (for a detailed description of Beliefs and their effects, look below). The city where the Prophet was used to found a Religion turns into the Holy City for that Religion. Most of its citizens immediately convert to it, mesmerized by the speech of your Great Prophet, but some citizens resist and remain pagans. Nevertheless, this Religion becomes the Majority religion in this city.

From the moment you found a Religion on, your cities stop acquiring Pantheon Beliefs automatically. New cities will be founded with no religious allegiance at all, and you will have to work actively to convert them, if you want the benefits of your new Religion to apply there.

Note that if you are playing as Byzantium you can also choose a fourth, Bonus belief when founding a religion. This one can come from either the Pantheon, the Founder, Follower, or Enhancer pool, which makes the bonus very powerful this early in the game!

Once you have founded a Religion, every subsequent Great Prophet born in your civilization is considered to belong to the Religion you founded (even if most of your cities follow a different Religion), and will be born in its Holy City (as long as you have control of it). From this point and on, the Great Prophet has the ability to Spread Religion, or Enhance Religion.

Only a limited number of religions can be founded in the world, determined by the size of the map: from 2 on a Tiny map to 7 on a Huge one.

Enhancing a Religion[]

Later on, when you acquire another Great Prophet, you can use him to Enhance the religion, allowing you to choose a second Follower belief and an Enhancer belief (chosen from a separate Enhancer pool). Note that enhancing a religion also consumes the Prophet; also note that if it has spent even one of its four uses of Spread Religion, you can no longer use it to enhance your religion! Again, the Prophet needs to be in the Holy City (or any other city belonging to you) to Enhance the Religion.

In Brave New World, if you adopt the Reformation policy in the Piety tree, you can choose one additional Reformation belief, for a total of 6 Beliefs per Religion (7 if you play as Byzantium). The Reformation Belief, however, is chosen from its own pool of powerful special bonuses (see below). It can be added as soon as you Found a religion, before you Enhance it.

What if I couldn't found a Religion?[]

There is a limited number of religions that can be founded in each game, and they are always less than the total number of players. That means that several players won't be able to found a religion. The remaining number of religions that can be founded is shown in the pop-up info tab when you point at the Faith Faith stat in the main interface.

If the number of remaining religions reaches zero before you manage to gather enough Faith Faith for a Great Prophet, you lose the chance to found a religion. However, that doesn't mean that you won't be able to enjoy the benefits of one in this game!

  1. If you managed to adopt a Pantheon Belief, your new cities will start with it, and you will enjoy its benefit in each city until a real Religion takes hold there.
  2. While you won't have a Religion of your own, tailored for your own benefit, your cities will still be able to adopt a Religion. You will have to wait until they get converted via one of the methods described below, after which you will be able to purchase the units and probably buildings associated with the new Religion. You may then spread it as you would your own.
  3. Since these foreign Religions will be "imported," you will be able to use all city-level bonuses from their various Beliefs, but not the empire-level bonuses. You also don't get some secondary effects, such as Influence (Civ5) Influence with City-States diminishing slower if they've adopted "your" religion, or their religion-oriented quests.

Spreading a Religion[]

The Religious Battle[]

The in-game use of religion manifests itself only after converting the citizens of cities (yours and all others) to it. Most Beliefs' effects only work on city level, so you will only benefit from them if your (and other) cities convert to your religion. In short, the more cities worldwide follow your religion, the better for you! In practice, founding a religion doesn't do much good if you can't manage to spread it around. All sorts of religious effects depend on the number of cities and citizens following it.

When more than 50% of the citizens of a city convert to a certain religion, it is declared the majority religion of this city, and the icon of the religion will appear just beside the city name in its tab. From now on, the owner of the religion will receive all religious bonuses applied on the city-level (which are most of the bonuses), and this city will start exerting religious pressure. Moreover, units and buildings related to this religion can now be purchased in this city, while any terrain bonuses from its Pantheon belief will be applied to nearby terrain.

Thus, spreading religions becomes another mini-game inside the civilization. You (and your adversaries) may use religion offensively to weaken the enemy, or simply to boost your own empire's stats. Religions are usually great sources of 20xHappiness5 Happiness, Culture Culture, Gold Gold and, of course, Faith Faith. Other leaders will try to spread their own religions when they can, and will do so more aggressively if they are hostile toward you. They may refrain from converting your cities if they are friendly, or at least neutral. They will always try to convert City-States, however - regardless of whether those are your allies, or not. Diplomatic incidents may also occur due to overzealous spreading of a religion, so be wary! On the other hand, the benefits are usually worth the trouble.

Religious Pressure[]

If a city has a majority religion (i.e., more than half of the city's 20xPopulation5 Population are its followers), the city starts exerting religious pressure for the respective religion on all other cities and City-States within 10 tiles, regardless of their civilization affiliation. This pressure results in conversion of citizens in those cities. Note that if the target city already has a majority religion, it needs at least two cities from another religion to start the conversion process. By default, the amount of religious pressure each city exerts is 6. Pressure from various cities adds together for increased effect. The greater the pressure, the faster citizens in that city convert to the religion exerting the pressure.

If there is more than one religion competing for influence in a given city, the one with greater pressure gains the upper hand, and will eventually convert the city. However, there will always be some followers of the competing religion(s) in that city, unless a special unit like the Inquisitor removes them.

In Brave New World, trade routes also spread the Religion of their source city to the target city, if the city is more than 10 tiles away. The effect lasts as long as the Trade Route is active. Use this as a way to reach cities out of the normal reach of automatic spread.

Religious Units[]

The other way of spreading a religion is by using a special civilian unit, the Missionary. Great Prophets also have an ability to spread religion, which is much more effective - it removes any influence from other religions, just like using an Inquisitor - but be aware that once they spread religion a single time, they can't be used to enhance a religion or create a Holy Site! Both Missionaries and Prophets have a maximum number of times they can "Spread Religion" (2 for Missionaries, 4 for Prophets), after which they will be removed from play.

You may move these units to target cities, and when they're in, or right next to them, they may use their special ability "Spread Religion" to immediately convert some citizens to their religion. Generally, it's easier to convert Pagan cities (those that have no majority religion yet). Note that the presence of an Inquisitor in the city greatly diminishes the effect of this type of conversion.

Both Missionaries and Prophets can move through territory you have no access to - that is, they can move through another civilization's territory without an Open Borders treaty. Missionaries, however, will suffer losses from attrition if they end their turn there (as they are considered unwelcome), losing 25% of their maximum conversion power per turn, and disappearing once their power drops to 0. Prophets aren't affected by this - their faith is apparently too strong. Also note that Great Prophets and Missionaries can use roads in unwelcome territory and are unaffected by the Great Wall wonder.

Other Gameplay Effects of Religion[]

Other than receiving all these nice bonuses from Beliefs, Religion has some other gameplay effects:

  • When a City-State shares your Religion, your Influence (Civ5) Influence with it diminishes 25% slower.
  • BNW-only Sharing Religion with another civilization nets you a 25% bonus to Tourism Tourism (more with certain Social Policies).
  • BNW-only You can designate a Religion to be the official World Religion via the World Congress, by successfully passing the respective resolution. Once enacted, this religion spreads 25% faster than others (conversion is 25% faster, albeit still in the same distance), its Holy City receives a 50% Tourism Tourism bonus, and all civilizations following this religion will receive two additional congress delegates.

You have to be aware that other civilizations are pretty protective of their religions. If they have founded one, and you try to convert their cities using Missionaries and Prophets, they will object diplomatically. Disregarding this objection may cause a diplomatic incident. You can also ask another player to stop preaching in your cities, if you want. However, civs that have not founded a religion of their own rarely object to you spreading yours in their territory, no matter how aggressively.


There are thirteen religions to choose from, and they are:

Originally, when Religion was reintroduced in Gods & Kings, there were eleven religions, including Christianity. Due to the large number of Christian civilizations, however, Brave New World split Christianity into three religions based on its three major contemporary denominations: Catholicism (which reuses the icon of the original Christian religion), Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism (two denominations of Christianity which originally appeared in the Gods & Kings scenario Into the Renaissance).


Religious Beliefs are split into four categories: Pantheons, Founder Beliefs, Follower Beliefs, and Enhancer Beliefs. In Brave New World, a new category, Reformation Beliefs, is added.

You can have up to five beliefs in the Religion you found once it has enhanced. Please note that there is also an additional Bonus Belief, exclusive to Byzantium, increasing the number of beliefs to six. These beliefs do not include the Reformation Belief.

Also note that once a belief is chosen, it's impossible to change it, and it also becomes unique to that Religion. You can only choose any of the beliefs that no other religions have.


Pantheons provide basic bonuses for cities, usually based on terrain or resources. You may found a Pantheon when you accumulate a sufficient amount of Faith Faith.

Note that if a bonus applies to a particular resource (Gold Gold, Wine Wine, etc.), the bonus will work regardless of whether the resource is improved or not. On the other hand, bonuses applying to particular improvements (Plantation, Pasture, etc.) will work as long as the improvement is not pillaged. Terrain bonuses always apply as long as you don't change the terrain - for example, by cutting down the jungle in a tile.

Name Benefit
Ancestor Worship +1 Culture Culture from Shrines
Dance of the Aurora +1 Faith Faith from Tundra tiles without Forest
Desert Folklore +1 Faith Faith from Desert tiles (including Flood Plains and Oasis)
Earth Mother BNW-only +1 Faith Faith for each Copper Copper, Iron Iron, and Salt Salt resource
Faith Healers +30 HP healed per turn if adjacent to a friendly city
Fertility Rites 10% faster Food Growth rates
God of Craftsmen +1 Production Production in cities with 20xPopulation5 Population of 3+
God of the Open Sky +1 Culture Culture from Pastures
God of the Sea +1 Production Production from Fishing Boats
God of War Gain Faith Faith if you win a battle within 4 tiles from your city
Goddess of Festivals +1 Culture Culture and +1 Faith Faith for each Wine Wine and Incense Incense
Goddess of Love +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities with 20xPopulation5 Population of 6+
Goddess of Protection +30% increase in city Ranged strength Ranged Combat Strength
Goddess of the Hunt +1 Food Food from Camps
God-King BNW-only Palace provides +1 Culture Culture, Faith Faith, Gold Gold, Production Production, and Science Science
Messenger of the Gods +2 Science Science in cities with a City Connection
Monument to the Gods +15% Production Production for Ancient/Classical Wonders
One with Nature +4 Faith Faith from Natural Wonders
Oral Tradition +1 Culture Culture from Plantations
Religious Idols +1 Culture Culture and +1 Faith Faith for each Gold Gold and Silver Silver
Religious Settlements 15% faster border growth
Sacred Path +1 Culture Culture from Jungle tiles (Resource tiles in a Jungle also qualify)
Sacred Waters +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness from cities on rivers
Stone Circles +2 Faith Faith from Quarries
Sun God BNW-only +1 Food Food for each Bananas Bananas, Citrus Citrus, and Wheat Wheat resource
Tears of the Gods BNW-only +2 Faith Faith for each Gems Gems and Pearls Pearls resource

Founder Beliefs[]

These beliefs provide basic bonuses for the founding empire of the Religion. Most of these bonuses apply at the empire level, not the city level. You may choose one of these beliefs when founding a Religion.

Name Beliefs
Ceremonial Burial +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every City following this religion
BNW-only +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 2 Cities following this religion
Church Property +2 Gold Gold for each City following this religion
Initiation Rites +100 Gold Gold when each City first converts to this religion
Interfaith Dialogue Gain Science Science when a Missionary spreads this religion to cities of other religions
Papal Primacy +15 to Influence (Civ5) Influence resting point with City-States following this religion
Peace Loving +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness for every 8 followers of this religion in non-enemy foreign cities
Pilgrimage +2 Faith Faith for each foreign City following this religion
Tithe +1 Gold Gold for every 4 followers of this religion
World Church +1 Culture Culture for every 5 followers of this religion in other civilizations

The "Interfaith Dialogue" belief works every time the action "Spread Religion" is performed, and regardless of whether you manage to convert the city with this particular action. In fact, because the effect only works if the target city has a majority religion other than yours, the moment the city converts to your religion, or even becomes neutral, Interfaith Dialogue stops. The amount of Science Science is equal to 10x the number of followers of the city's majority religion (before conversion) on Standard speed.

Follower Beliefs[]

These beliefs provide bonuses for cities following this Religion. You can choose one of these beliefs when founding a Religion. When the Religion enhances, you may choose another.

Name Beliefs
Asceticism Shrines provide +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 3 followers
Cathedrals Use Faith Faith to purchase Cathedrals
Choral Music Temples provide +2 Culture Culture in cities with 5 followers
Divine Inspiration Each World Wonder provides +2 Faith Faith in city
Feed the World Shrines and Temples provide +1 Food Food each in city
Guruship +2 Production Production if city has a Specialist
Holy Warriors Use Faith Faith to purchase pre-Industrial land units
Liturgical Drama Amphitheaters provide +1 Faith Faith in cities with 3 followers
Monasteries Use Faith Faith to purchase Monasteries
Mosques Use Faith Faith to purchase Mosques
Pagodas Use Faith Faith to purchase Pagodas
Peace Gardens Gardens provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness in city
Religious Art Hermitage provides +8 Culture Culture in city
BNW-only Hermitage provides +5 Culture Culture and +5 Tourism Tourism
Religious Center Temples provide +2 20xHappiness5 Happiness in cities with 5 followers
Religious Community +1% Production Production for each follower (Max +15%)
Swords into Plowshares 15% faster Food Growth rate for city if not at war

Enhancer Beliefs[]

These beliefs provide additional empire-level bonuses that may help you in spreading your Religion. You may choose one of these beliefs only when the Religion enhances.

Name Beliefs
Defender of the Faith +20% Melee strength Combat Strength near friendly cities that follow this religion
Holy Order Missionaries and Inquisitors cost 30% less Faith Faith
Itinerant Preachers Religion spreads to cities 30% further away
Just War +20% Melee strength Combat Strength near enemy cities that follow this religion
Messiah Prophets 25% stronger and earned with 25% less Faith Faith
Missionary Zeal Missionary conversion strength +25%
Religious Texts Religion spreads 34% faster (68% with Printing Press)
BNW-only Religion spreads 25% faster (50% with Printing Press)
Religious Unity Religion spreads to friendly City-States at double rate
Reliquary Gain 50 Faith Faith each time a Great Person is expended

Reformation Beliefs[]

Introduced in Brave New World, these beliefs provide powerful, game-changing bonuses. You can choose one of these beliefs after adopting the Reformation policy in the Piety tree.

Name Beliefs
Charitable Missions Influence (Civ5) Influence boosts from Gold Gold gifts to City-States are increased by 30%
Evangelism Missionaries' Spread Religion action erodes existing pressure from other religions
Heathen Conversion Missionaries convert adjacent Barbarian units to this civilization
Jesuit Education May build Universities, Public Schools, and Research Labs with Faith Faith
Religious Fervor Use Faith Faith to purchase Industrial (and later) land units
Sacred Sites All buildings purchased with Faith Faith provide 2 Tourism Tourism each
To the Glory of God Use Faith Faith to purchase any type of GreatPeople5 Great Person starting in Industrial Era
Underground Sect Your spies exert religious pressure on the cities they occupy
Unity of the Prophets Inquisitors and Prophets reduce this religion's presence by half (instead of eliminating it)

The Reformation Trait "Heathen Conversion" is similar to how Monks, Priests, and Imams work in the Age of Empires series (except the third title); the Missionaries in these games do not spread Religion, but convert enemy units to your side. However, unlike in AoE, this conversion applies only to barbarians and not to other civilizations' units.

The Reformation Trait "Underground Sect" requires at least one follower in the city or another source of religious pressure in order for it to work. It then exerts a hidden amount of religious pressure equivalent to 5 cities (+30 religious pressure on Standard speed). This exerted pressure is not modified by the "Religious Texts" and "Religious Unity" Enhancer Beliefs or the Arabian unique ability.


It is very advisable, although not essential, to make your own religion and spread it as quickly as possible. Religion can serve as a great booster to your chosen victory path, if you tailor it well.

There's a limited number of Religions that can be founded. If you dally for too long in the beginning of the game, you will never be able to found a Religion. To prevent this, research Pottery and build a Shrine in your Capital Capital at the first available opportunity - perhaps right after building a Monument. Also, you may probably want to build Stonehenge for a massive Faith Faith boost. This will allow you to at least found a Pantheon, although that won't do you much good when other religions convert your cities. So, try to build couple of more Shrines in your first cities to ensure that you'll produce enough Faith Faith to get a Great Prophet in time. Once you found a religion, you can take your time to enhance it.

The success of a Religion depends on the combination of Beliefs you choose. There are plenty to choose from, and they're calculated well to help any imaginable game strategy. You can make a strong Culture Culture-boosting Religion, or you can earn Gold Gold through Religion, or you can even improve your military! You can help defend your civilization from invaders if you're playing defensively, or you can spread your Religion to neighboring enemy cities, and then gain a combat bonus when you go to conquer them! Think very carefully before choosing Beliefs and try to combine their effects to suit your playstyle, chosen civilization, and victory path. Of course, the earlier you found and enhance your Religion, the more Beliefs you'll be able to choose from. So, if you plan to use a Religion, think about it from the very beginning, and tailor it to suit your game plan.

Adopting the Piety social policy tree is mandatory if you decide to rely heavily on Religion. In Brave New World, Piety is available right from the start (Ancient Era), both helping you to create a Religion faster and to improve its effects, including by choosing a special Reformation Belief.

Spreading the religion after its foundation can be tricky, especially in the first 100-150 turns. The problem is that you still have lots of other things to do at this time, such as expanding, scouting, and even defending from barbarians or from an aggressive neighbor that decides to rush you. Your first choice is how to use your Faith Faith after you found a religion, and you have two basic options: you can choose whether to purchase a Missionary right after the first Prophet, or to gather more Faith Faith for a second Prophet and enhance the Religion. In the first case, you'll jump-start the spreading of your religion; in the second, you'll get a little more choice for Enhancement Beliefs. Also, you could try building the Hagia Sophia for a free Prophet, and spend Faith Faith on Missionaries to spread your religion faster. The Great Mosque of Djenne is also a great idea, because it gives you Missionaries with ability to spread religion three times instead of two! Make sure you train most of, if not all your Missionaries in this city, though.

The amount of Faith Faith you're producing in the beginning may have a decisive role in your choices. If you're not producing enough, and you depend on terrain and/or resource features to produce more, you should try to spread your religion as early as possible, so that more of your cities make use of terrain/resources. On the other hand, if you produce enough Faith Faith, you may want to get a Prophet soon and Enhance the religion first.

Having a neighbor aggressively spreading his or her own religion should also influence your choice. In this case it is vital for you to spread your religion early, or else your neighbor will get the upper hand and the natural religious pressure of his or her religion may turn almost insurmountable. In this case, and if you really need to spread your religion at any cost, you may want to consider expending a Prophet to spread your religion instead of Enhancing it.

In the middle and late game, spreading religion turns more complicated. After the Industrial Era, the price of Missionaries and Inquisitors usually grows too much for them to be of practical use. You should then concentrate on spending your Faith Faith on Great People, including Prophets (whose Faith Faith price grows in the above-mentioned progression, regardless of the era you're in). At any rate, you should have already a solid core of cities with your religion, which will create a critical mass of religious pressure which spreads naturally, so you don't have to worry too much about it. Alternatively, you could use Trade Routes to further spread your religion.

And of course, you should use what you have created! Spreading a religion may not be of much use if its beliefs aren't based on foreign cities/citizens, but on your own cities. For example, the Beliefs allowing construction of religious buildings (Cathedrals, Pagodas, etc.) aren't of much use to you in foreign cities; the same goes for Beliefs that act in your own cities only, such as Liturgical Drama or Choral Music. On the other hand, Beliefs such as Pilgrimage, World Church and Tithe are all based either on number of cities or number of followers (domestic and foreign, in both cases), and thus will benefit you more the more cities in the world you convert. In other words, think about how you can use your religion, and plan your game accordingly.

See also[]

BNW-only Added in the Brave New World expansion pack.

Civilization V [edit]
Gods & KingsBrave New World
† Only in vanilla Civ5
‡ Only in Gods & Kings and Brave New World