Although predominantly Baptist today, Alabama was officially Roman Catholic throughout most of the 18th century, under French and Spanish rule. A century passed between the building of the first Catholic Church in 1702 and the earliest sustained efforts by Protestant evangelists. The first Baptist church in the state, the Flint River Church in Madison County, was organized in 1808; the following year, the Old Zion Methodist Church was founded in the Tombigbee area.
During the second decade of the 19th century, settlers from the southeastern states brought the influence of the Great Revival to Alabama, along with the various Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist sects that had developed in its wake. The first black church in Alabama probably dates from 1820. As in other southern states, black slaves who had previously attended the churches of their masters formed their own churches after the Civil War. One of the earliest of these, the Little Zion Methodist Church, was established in 1867 in Mobile. Most freed blacks became Baptists, however.
The vast majority of congregations in the state belong in the category of Evangelical Protestants. As of 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention was still the fastest growing and the largest denomination within the state, with 1,380,121 adherents and 3,148 congregations, representing an increase of 83 congregations since 1990. The United Methodist Church claimed 327,734 adherents with 1,416 congregations, a decrease of 56 congregations since 1990. The Church of Christ was the 3rd-largest denomination with 119,049 adherents and 895 congregations. Roman Catholics in Alabama numbered 150,647 and there were an estimated 9,100 Jews. About 45.2% of the population were not counted as members of any religious organization.