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2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Micronesia, Federated States of

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 17 November 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Micronesia, Federated States of, 17 November 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cf2d07e7d.html [accessed 19 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

[Covers the period from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010]

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 271 square miles and population of 108,000. The country is an archipelego of 607 islands spread over a 2,000-mile long swath of ocean; diverse languages and cultures exist within each of the country's four states. Several Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, are present in every state. Most Protestant groups trace their roots to American Congregationalist missionaries. The United Church of Christ is the main Protestant denomination. On the island of Kosrae, the population is approximately 6,000, 95 percent of whom are Protestants. On Pohnpei the population of 35,000 is evenly divided between Protestants and Catholics. On Chuuk an estimated 60 percent are Catholic and 40 percent Protestant. In Yap an estimated 80 percent of the population is Catholic and the remainder Protestant. In addition to the United Church of Christ, Protestant denominations include Baptists, Assemblies of God, Salvation Army, and Seventh-day Adventists. Groups that together compose less than one percent of the population include Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the Baha'i Faith. There is a small group of Buddhists on Pohnpei, although no Buddhist monks or clergy live on the island. Attendance at religious services is generally high; churches are well-supported by their congregations and play a significant role in civil society.

Most immigrants are Filipino Catholics who have joined local Catholic churches. The Filipino Iglesia Ni Cristo also has a church in Pohnpei.

In the 1890s, on the island of Pohnpei, interdenominational rivalry and the conversion of clan leaders resulted in religious divisions along clan lines which still exist today, although intermarriage has blurred the lines considerably. More Protestants live on the western side of the island, while more Catholics live on the eastern side.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The constitution protects this right against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The constitution's Declaration of Rights forbids the establishment of a state religion or governmental restrictions on freedom of religion.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday and Christmas.

The government provides a few grants to private, church-affiliated schools. Public schools do not provide religious instruction. Although the law requires every child to attend school, homeschooling is not penalized.

Missionaries of many religious traditions are present and operate freely.

There are numerous church-sponsored schools, and religious groups operate radio stations that broadcast religious programming to many parts of the country.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion.

Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. There was no notable tension between the two largest religious groups, Protestants and Catholics, and an Inter-Denominational Council exists to address social problems and promote official cooperation between the two. However, some newer Protestant denominations in the islands reportedly limited their members' interactions with other faith communities and declined to join the council or the Christian Ministerial Association.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The U.S. embassy also worked closely with church-related nongovernmental organizations in its efforts to promote good governance and religious tolerance.

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