In traditional Tswana religion (tribal animism) "Modimo" is the great God, or "The Great Spirit." It is interesting that "God" is the singular spirit "Mo-dimo", and the general spirits are the plural "ba-dimo." The badimo (ancestral spirits) are understood as agents of Modimo. This implies traditionally the Tswana acknowledge the singular supreme God. "Ancestor worship" is their philosophy of hierarchical forces, going upwards from men to ancestors, to the ultimate God, believing that if one fails the other will help. The paternalistic teaching and preaching of early Christian missionaries neglected the significance of culture, and retarded growth of the church. Today, the majority of Tswana are indifferent to religion of any kind, or insincere about the one they profess.
By 1820, missionaries from France and Britain were working among several Sotho-Tswana groups including the Tlokwa and Kwena. Missionaries settled in Lesotho in 1833. Moffat impacted the Tswana by translating the Bible, and by establishing the first church in 1829. Livingstone followed in 1841. Failure of Christian teaching can be attributed to the cultural forms in which Christianity was brought to Africa. About 60% of the Tswana profess Christianity, but only about 18% are practicing Christians, of which women outnumber men at least 2:1.