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U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2006 - St. Lucia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 15 September 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2006 - St. Lucia , 15 September 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/450fb0c934.html [accessed 16 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.

International Religious Freedom Report 2006

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, September 15, 2006. Covers the period from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006.

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 during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religious groups in society contributed to 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 238 square miles and a population estimated at 163,000. Christianity was the dominant religion. Roman Catholics accounted for approximately 67 percent of the population, and the Catholic Church described 40 percent of these members as "active." The second largest group was evangelical Christians, including Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, and members of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Anglican Church had approximately 6,000 members, with 50 percent being active, while Baptists and Methodists represented smaller numbers.

The total number of non-Christians was very small. There were an estimated 350 Muslims, primarily local converts, but some were also immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia, and other Caribbean countries. Muslims worshipped in two musallahs (informal places of worship); there were no mosques in the country. Other minority religious groups included Rastafarians 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 Government is secular and did not interfere with an individual's right to worship. The Government maintains a close relationship with the Christian Council, an organization comprised of the Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations.

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

The Government requires a list of at least one hundred members to register a religious group. Official recognition allows a religious organization to have duty-free import privileges and the right to register births, deaths, and marriages within the community. Any citizen can register life events with the Government; however, registration of a religious group allows its officials to act in this capacity as well. Muslim leaders have applied for official recognition; their application was pending at the end of the period covered by this report because the Government was in the process of revising registration procedures. A number of other religious groups were awaiting registration as well.

The public school curriculum includes Christian education; however, non-Christian students are not required to participate. There also are private schools sponsored by both the Catholic and Anglican churches.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

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

Rastafarians complained that the use of marijuana, pertinent to their religious rituals, 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

The generally amicable relationship among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom, although some tension existed between the historically dominant Catholic Church and the rapidly growing evangelical denominations. Some evangelicals allegedly criticized Catholics and mainline Protestants for adherence to "slave religions" and for not accepting a literal interpretation of the Bible. Muslim leaders claimed that some recent converts to Islam hid their new religion from non-Muslim friends and family to avoid criticism and discrimination. The St. Lucia Christian Council conducted activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different denominations within the Christian community.

In April 2006 a man was remanded to custody, accused of attempting to assassinate the Eastern Caribbean's Catholic archbishop. The accused was to be sent for psychological evaluation before being formally charged. Government officials denounced the attack as reprehensible and called for tolerance among religious groups. At the end of the reporting period, no further developments had taken place.

Two Rastafarian men, found guilty in 2003 of murder and arson in a 2000 attack on the Catholic cathedral in Castries and sentenced to hang, remained in prison awaiting execution.

Rastafarians complained that there was widespread discrimination against their members, especially in hiring and in schools.

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.

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