U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2006 - Micronesia, Federated States of

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 approximately two-hundred and sixty square miles, and its population is an estimated one-hundred thousand, according to the 2000 census. The country consists of 607 islands spread over a two-thousand 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, were present in every state. Most Protestant groups trace their roots to American Congregationalist missionaries. On the island of Kosrae, the population was approximately 7,800; 95 percent were Protestants. On Pohnpei, the population of thirty-five thousand was evenly divided between Protestants and Catholics. On Chuuk and Yap, an estimated 60 percent were Catholic and 40 percent were Protestant. Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Salvation Army, Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the Baha'i Faith also were represented. There was a small group of Buddhists on Pohnpei. Attendance at religious services was generally high; churches were well supported by their congregations and played a significant role in civil society.

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

In the 1890s, on the island of Pohnpei, intermissionary conflicts and the conversion of clan leaders resulted in religious divisions along clan lines, which persist today. More Protestants live on the western side of the island, while more Catholics live on the eastern side.

Missionaries of many faiths worked within the country, including Catholics, Baptists, and Mormons.

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 Bill of Rights forbids the establishment of a state religion and governmental restrictions on freedom of religion. There is no state religion.

Christmas and Good Friday are national religious days.

Foreign missionary groups operated without hindrance in all four states. There were numerous church-sponsored schools, and religious groups operated radio stations broadcasting religious programming on Pohnpei and Yap.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

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

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 Attitudes

The generally amicable relations among religious groups in society contributed to religious freedom. Churches have formed an Inter-Denominational Council to address social problems within the country.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its policy to promote human rights. Representatives of the U.S. embassy regularly meet with the leaders of religious communities. The embassy also worked closely with church-related nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in its efforts to promote good governance.

In 2005 church-related NGOs implemented two Pacific Island Fund grants. In addition a church-owned radio station was installing a Voice of America-provided satellite receiver so that it could relay VOA programming. An embassy nomination enabled a local cleric to visit the United States as part of an educational exchange that focused on the relationship between religion and community.


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