International Religious Freedom Report 2002
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

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 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

Antigua and Barbuda's two-island nation has a total land area of 170 square miles, 108 on Antigua and 62 on Barbuda. Its population is approximately 71,800. A significant percentage of the population represents citizens of Guyana and other Caribbean countries. The dominant religion is Christianity (mostly Anglican, Methodist, Moravian, and Roman Catholic), but religious freedom for others is not affected adversely. The minority religions are Islam, the Baha'i Faith, and Rastafarianism.

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 strives to protect this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The Government is secular and does not interfere with an individual's right to worship. Most government officials are Christian and Christian Holy Days, such as Good Friday, Whit Monday, and Christmas, are national holidays. The Government does not take any particular steps to promote interfaith understanding.

The law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, creed, language, or social status, and the Government generally respected these provisions in practice.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. Members of the Rastafarian community have complained that law enforcement officials unfairly target them. However, it is not clear whether such complaints reflect discrimination on the basis of religious belief by authorities or simply enforcement of laws against marijuana, which is used as part of Rastafarian religious practice.

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 refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Relations between the various religious communities are generally amicable. The Antigua Christian Council, an interdenominational group, conducts activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different denominations within the Christian faith.

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.

[This is a mobile copy of Antigua and Barbuda]