U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2001 - Barbados

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects 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 the religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

Barbados, the most eastern island in the Caribbean chain, has a total land area of 166 square miles; its population is approximately 265,000. Some 96 percent of the population are of African descent. The majority of worshippers adhere to Anglican belief. The dominant religion present in the country is Christianity, with over 125 different denominations. Significant numbers of worshippers are Catholics, Moravians, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists, members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Baha'is, Muslims, Jews, Rastafarians (Nyabinghi School) or members of other faiths or beliefs, including the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), which sponsors missionary activity.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The Government is secular, but most government officials are Christian. The Government does not take any steps to promote interfaith understanding but also does not monitor or discriminate according to religious faith. Christian holy days such as Good Friday, Easter, Whit Monday, and Christmas are national holidays.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

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

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

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 Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

The country has a history of being open and tolerant of diverse forms of worship. Relations between the various religious communities are generally amicable. The Barbados Christian Council and the Caribbean Conference of Churches conduct activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different denominations within the Christian faith.

Although society is dominated by Christian attitudes, values and mores, individuals respect the rights of religious minorities such as Jews, Baha'is, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and others.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government, local groups, and other organizations in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2001 is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to Congress by September 1 of each year, or the first day thereafter on which the appropriate House of Congress is in session, "an Annual Report on International Religious Freedom supplementing the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom." The 2001 Report covers the period from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001.

This 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.