Uruguay has no official religion, church and state are officially separated and religious freedom is guaranteed. A 2008 survey by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística of Uruguay gave Catholicism as the main religion, with 45.7% of the population, 9.0% are non-Catholic Christians, 0.6% are Animists or Umbandists (an Afro-Brazilian religion) and 0.4% Jewish. 30.1% reported believing in a god, but not belonging to any religion, while 14% were Atheist or Agnostic. Among the sizeable Armenian community in Montevideo the dominant religion is Christianity, specifically Armenian Apostolic.
Political observers consider Uruguay the most secular country in the Americas. Uruguay's secularization began with the relatively minor role of the church in the colonial era, compared with other parts of the Spanish Empire. The small numbers of Uruguay's Indians and their fierce resistance to proselytism reduced the influence of the ecclesiastical authorities.
After independence, anticlerical ideas spread to Uruguay, particularly from France, further eroding the influence of the church. In 1837, civil marriage was recognized and in 1861 the state took over the running of public cemeteries. In 1907, divorce was legalized and in 1909, all religious instruction was banned from state schools. Under the influence of the radical Colorado reformer José Batlle y Ordóñez (1903–1911) complete separation of church and state was introduced with the new constitution of 1917