Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 09:50 GMT

2007 Report on International Religious Freedom - Barbados

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Publication Date 14 September 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom - Barbados, 14 September 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46ee67a5c9.html [accessed 23 July 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.

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice and prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom.

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

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 166 square miles and a population of 277,000. According to the most resent official census in 2000, more than 95 percent of the population is considered Christian, although persons may not be active in any particular denomination. The Anglican Church constitutes the largest religious group, with 70,000 members; an estimated 67 percent are active in the Church. The next largest group is the Seventh-day Adventists, numbering 16,000 members, 10,000 of whom are active. There are 11,000 Roman Catholics; an estimated 20 percent are active. Pentecostals numbered 7,000; more than 50 percent are active. Methodists numbered 5,000 according to church officials, although many more claimed Methodist affiliation in the previous official census; an estimated 60 percent of members are active. There are 2,500 members of Jehovah's Witnesses; more than 95 percent are active. Baptists, Moravians, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are present in small numbers.

The number of non-Christians is small. There are 4,000 Muslims, most of whom are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Indian state of Gujarat. A few immigrants from Guyana, Trinidad, South Asia, and the Middle East, as well as 200 Barbadians, comprise the rest of the growing Muslim community. There are three mosques and an Islamic center. Other minority religious groups include Rastafarians, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of the Baha'i Faith.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government at all levels sought to protect this right in full and did not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The Christian holy days of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and Christmas are national holidays.

Religious groups were required to register with the Government to obtain duty-free import privileges or tax benefits, but no complaints were received that the process was onerous.

Foreign missionaries were required to apply for entry visas and obtained them easily.

Religious instruction is included in the public school curriculum as "values education." The focus is on Christianity, but representatives from minority religious groups are also invited to speak to students.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

Rastafarians complained that the use of marijuana, as an aspect of their religious ritual, was illegal.

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

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice. Prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom; however, Rastafarians complained of discrimination, especially in hiring and in schools.

The Barbados Christian Council and the Caribbean Conference of Churches conducted activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different Christian denominations.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. U.S. Embassy representatives also discussed freedom of religion with local groups and other organizations.

Released on September 14, 2007

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