10/24/2014: 10 Leader Guides are undone, but the rest of the guide is 95%+ complete. I will work on this eventually but have my hands full playing Civilization: Beyond Earth and writing for The Sims 4. There is a possibiliy I will try to cover at least some of the gameplay elements from Beyond Earth, but can't make any promises. If you'd like to say thanks, you can use the donate button or use EA Origin, Gamestop, or Walmart to make a game purchase.

Civilization 5 Religion Guide

Generating Faith and Founding a Religion in G&K and BNW

Civ 5 Religion Guide - Gods & Kings and Brave New World
Converting & Religious PressurePantheonsFounder BeliefsFollower BeliefsEnhancersReformation

Founding a Religion in Civ 5 Gods and Kings and Brave New World
Founding a Religion Allows You to Choose from Many Bonuses (Beliefs)

This Guide to Religion in Civilization V Gods and Kings and Brave New World will teach you how the Religion gameplay mechanic works and provide tips to using it to your advantage. I'll cover how to get Faith and the process of Founding a Religion and spreading it through Religious Pressure. The formation of Religious Pantheons and the birth of Great Prophets are also explained, along with a detailed list of Founder, Follower, and Enhancer Beliefs that provide tips to using them, good combinations, and ideas for gameplay strategies you might try.

Religion is very useful in a Cultural Victory as it boosts Tourism with other Civs if you share a Religion. Otherwise, it's a nice feature that you can use to benefit your Civilization in many ways. It can aid in any other victory type through indirect bonuses, making your people happier, helping you to get more Social Policies, or allowing you to afford a larger Military by helping you to raise money.

Starting a Religion Early: Maximum Religions and Duplicate Beliefs
There is a max to the number of religions that can be founded in a game, based on Map size. About 2/3 of Civs can found a religion in any game if you do not add more players to a custom game.

  • Huge maps offer 12 players 7 religions
  • Large 10 players with 6 Religions
  • Standard 8 Players with 5 Religions
  • Small 6 Players with 4 Religions
  • Tiny 4 Players with 3 Religions
  • Duel 2 Players with 2 Religions

You can find the number of remaining religions by clicking Additional Information in the top right > Religion Overview > World Religions. Players coming late will spend more Faith founding their Pantheon but the first Great Prophet costs the same.

If you want the best pick of beliefs for your Religion, it's wise to found one early for each Pantheon Belief, Founder Belief, and all other Beliefs are unique to the Civ that picks them. So if you want a specific set of Beliefs that go well together, you'd best get a Shrine built early on and get to Philosophy Technology for Temples.

Getting Faith
Faith is the resource that drives the Religion system in Civ 5 Gods and Kings. While a couple of Civs get direct bonuses to Faith generation, all will need higher amounts of Faith to effectively utilize Religion. Faith is a resource that is easier to generate in Wide Civilizations, those with more Cities. It scales very well with the size of your empire, and those many smaller Cities will put out more combined Religious Pressure than a few, taller Cities can. The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all means of getting Faith, but gives you an idea of some of your options:

  • Shrines and Temples - these buildings provide +1/+2 Faith and are unlocked with Pottery and Philosophy, respectively.
  • Religious City-States - Religious City-States can provide a large chunk of Faith each turn, and befriending or Allying with one in the early game can almost guarantee you get to Found a Religion. Being first to meet them, you'll get 8 Faith, but meeting them after other Civs will still give you 4 toward your Pantheon. Early on, this Alliance will get you quickly to the total of 510 Faith minimum you need to get a fully enhanced Religion. Though the amount they give will seem less impressive later in a game, having them through the ages will give you many more opportunities to purchase units, buildings, or Great People for your Civilization. To get an Alliance going early, watch for the Religious City-State to offer Quests and complete them. Typically, you can do this in the early-game by waiting for them to need assistance with Barbarian Encampments, want Trade Routes, specific Wonders, or Roads constructed to connect them to your network.
  • Holy Sites - Holy Sites are placed by Great Prophets on a tile of your choice. This will make the tile give +6 Faith per turn and can be enhanced to also give +3 Culture/Gold with the Piety Social Policies. If you will use Faith heavily, then this is a wise use of a Great Prophet.
  • World Wonders - World Wonders like Stonehenge, the Hagia Sophia, Great Mosque of Djenne, Notre Dame, and Borobodur all give some benefit to Religion. There are no National Wonders that produce Faith aside from the Grand Temple, which gives +8 Faith and doubles Religious Pressure emanating from the Holy City, where it must be built. To make this, you must research Theology and have a Temple in all your Cities.
  • Natural Wonders - Some Natural Wonders may produce a large amount of faith per turn when worked by a City. These are rare enough that they can't be relied upon, and there may be competition to control that land. When you get one, it's very helpful!

Piety Social Policies
Piety is a pretty poor starting tree for any Civilization, Religious or not. It is better to start with Tradition, Liberty, or Honor then transition into Piety once you've got what lands and Cities you need to help your Civilization thrive. The build time reduction for Shrines/temples is nice and all, just not necessary until you have multiple cities trying to build them. Once you've got a few Cities, the additional Faith from Shrines and Temples will make a much larger difference. The 20% discount on religious unit/building purchases doesn't apply to the spawning of Great Prophets, so it's really an unused Social Policy for a long time - time best spent on other Social Policies that give your Civilization a boost in growth so they are more capable of enjoying Religion's perks. Look at the +10% gold from Temples. Temples have a 2 gold maintenance cost, so you won't even make a profit until you're at over 20 gold generation in the City, it merely offsets the cost a touch, and in the early-game that is not much. Really, this tree is awful unless you will make at least a few Holy Sites and want a Reformation Belief.

Founding a Pantheon in Civ 5 Brave New World
Your Pantheon Belief can Help Your Growing Civ in a Variety of Ways

How to Create a Religion: The Founding of Pantheons
Pantheons are earned automatically by expending Faith. The First player to reach 10 Faith will found a Pantheon, with the next costing 15, 20, and so on. Founding a Pantheon will give your early Cities a bonus in the form of a Pantheon Belief. You can find a list of Pantheon Beliefs further into this guide.

Select Pantheon Beliefs based on your surroundings first. You can earn big bonuses if your first City has access to many Camps (+Food), Culture (Jungle or Pastures), or Sea Resources for Fishing Boats (Production). You may also go for permanent Growth for your Cities, or faster production of Ancient/Classical Wonders - certainly helpful for getting Stonehenge, Hanging Gardens, and some other great options that can greatly aid your Civilization.

Once you've Founded your Pantheon, your Civilization is on its way to Founding its own Religion with more advanced Beliefs and Bonuses to aid your quest for Victory.

Founding a Religion: Great Prophets and Holy Cities
Your first Great Prophet will be born in the Capital at around 200 Faith, independent of other Civs Founding their own Religions. You may move this Great Person to the City you'd like to create as your Holy City. Most choose the Capital, but if you have a great City closer to other Civs and more City-States, or even Coastal with great potential to reach out to other Civs, then Found your Holy City there. Holy City position is relevant to the spread of Religion. For now just know that Religious Pressure will emanate from this City to all Cities within 10 tiles, effectively spreading the religion throughout your Civilization as turns go by. Those Cities will then spread them to others in range, and so on.

When Founding your Religion, you will get to choose a Founder Belief that affects only your Civilization and usually scales based on the size of your Religion and its Spread through foreign Cities. Additionally, you'll pick the first of two Follower Beliefs which will affect those Cities that have this Religion as the Majority and may provide cumulative benefits to your Empire.

The next Great Prophet will be born at 300 Faith, and you should generally use them to Enhance the Religion because other Civs may get the second Follower Belief or Enhancer Belief that you wanted. Once your Religion has been Enhanced, you may then feel free to use Great Prophets to spread the Religion to other Cities and City States, or to construct a Holy Site on a tile, which provides +6 Faith and may later provide +3 Gold and +3 Culture with the Piety Social Policies. Great Prophets will continue to be born regularly after this first at a ramping cost, automatically spending Faith to birth another in the Holy City when you reach that threshold.

It's worth noting here that you cannot use a Great Prophet's Construct Holy Site or Enhance Religion after using Spread Religion, so if you use Spread, expect to use that on multiple Cities until you run out.

Enhancing the Religion
You may use your second or later Great Prophet (who must be in the Holy City) to Enhance the Religion and gain an additional Follower belief. You will also get an Enhancer Belief which boosts the Religion as a whole in a big way, increasing the spawn rate of Great Prophets and enhancing them, extending the range of Religious Pressure, or giving Combat Bonuses to Units near Cities of the same religion. Head to that section of the Religion Guide to learn about all your options and see those you may have missed out on by founding your Religion too late.

Automatic Faith Purchases
Once you've founded and Enhanced your Civ's Religion, go to Additional Information in the top right of the screen > Religion Overview > Your Religion > and select how you want Automatic Faith Purchases to be handled. If you chose a building such as Mosques, then those can be automatically built in your Cities each time you hit 200 Faith. Some players may choose Holy Warriors, and this allows you to purchase units automatically. All Civs with a Religion may automatically make Missionaries. If you want Manual Control, put it on Remind Me Later but Great Prophets may still be born at set Faith prices - automatic spending sort of prevents that from happening.

Next: Converting Citizens and Religious Pressure

Civ 5 Religion Guide - Gods & Kings and Brave New World
Converting & Religious PressurePantheonsFounder BeliefsFollower BeliefsEnhancersReformation

Comments (8)

Hiep Pham says...
Another motivation for chasing and spreading the religion is your relationship with CS following your relation will degrade slower. I don's think the 15 extra resting point on CS is important because you will spend a lot of money to offset that initial amount. Tithe is VERY important and fortunately, most AI ignore this belief when founding the religion. They only focus on religious buildings. So make sure when 1 of your cities is converted, check if you can buy any religious building from other AI's belief. I can's stress this enough. It will give you a lot of money to gift the CS. Try to choose the right time when they have a quest to gift your gold for your long term benefit. CS ally is more important than rushing a building.
Another important factor when spreading the religion is whether to choose prophet or missionary and where to spread it.
I notice that about Tithe too! It's almost always available. I pick it in 90% of my games, because Gold is simply the most flexible option and works well when you're tall and can't spread your religion into nearby Civs' lands.

Someone else just said the same thing about religious buildings on the Follower Beliefs page - it really is a great tip. The buildings continue to function after the conversion, and you get faith, culture and happiness.

I have even had the fortune of having a 3-4 Wine City converted, and they had Monasteries.. so that was a nice boost :)
26th April 2014 3:12pm
Creek says...
Hi, Carl. I enjoy and follow your guides, thank you for taking the time to write them. I notice the religious section here is mostly g&k. Is it equally valid for BNW, or will you be updating this section?
I am playing and writing about Brave New World and never played it with just Gods and Kings installed, although I do own it to have the Civs that came with it - so this Guide is for BNW.

I wrote a Guide to Vanilla that did not include Religion, as it was written before G&K came out and did not return to development until Brave New World. At first, I didn't know what feature came from what, but now know that the only thing you lack without G&K are the Civs.
10th February 2014 2:06pm
Shawn says...
Hey good job, on all the guides, sims included. A big thank you for all your hard work!
Thanks for the compliment, and you're welcome!
23rd March 2014 11:09pm
Sparkopolis says...
I'm trying to adopt the world religion that exists in my current BNW game. I need it to get the extra two delegates in the world congress that come from following the world religion. Somebody on another site said that you get the delegates when you've established the world religion as the dominant religion in your civilization. Does that mean it must outnumber any of the other individual religions in your civ or that you must have the majority of your cities following the world religion overall?
The majority of your Cities need to have it as the dominant Religion (as in, the symbol changes to that Religion).
19th June 2014 4:32pm
Redmond Jennings says...
Am I correct in understanding that you cannot convert your empire to a Religion as you could in Civ4 or as you do wit Ideologies? It's simply city-by-city?
8th July 2014 9:46am
Curse says...
I don't know when they changed it, but a the Temple Piety belief now gives +25% gold instead ot +10%.
Fall Patch 2013. I need to edit that I suppose, but Theocracy is indeed much better now.
28th July 2014 3:01am
melissa says...
Hi Carl, Thanks for this very helpful guide. I have a question: if you capture a holy city, what happens to the ownership of the religion? I founded a religion and now captured the holy city of my obnoxious neighbour, but I do not seem to control his religion: my own religious screen only informs me about my religion. Is that possible at all? (his religion is stronger so I would not mind switching)
I think that the founder still gets benefits, but is likely to gradually fail without a holy city so long as you make an effort to spread your own. It's not possible to fully benefit from another's religion, as you didn't found it - but if you like the other benefits, can certainly encourage it in your lands.
23rd August 2014 10:00am
Ubåden says...
Hi carl, thx for your guides! Im currently trying to get my head around religious pressure. It seems as if wonders create a large deal of pressure? Or is the pressure entirely based on faith pr turn? Also, why are enemy cities not getting trade route pressure when Im opening a trade route to them from a city with my religion?

Best regards Ubåden
16th September 2014 3:24am
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This site and all original strategy guides created by and © Carl Ratcliff. This is an unofficial Civilization V fansite and I am in no way affiliated with Firaxis Games, Developer of Civ 5 Brave New World and Gods and Kings.