International Religious Freedom Report 2007
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.

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 of 165,000. Christianity is the dominant religion. According to the 2001 population and housing census, Roman Catholics account for approximately 67 percent of the population. The second largest group is Seventh-day Adventists, comprising almost 9 percent of the population, followed by Pentecostals, with nearly 6 percent. Evangelicals and Anglicans each account for approximately 2 percent of the population, while Baptists and Methodists represent smaller numbers.

The total number of non-Christians is very small. There are an estimated 350 Muslims; while some of the Muslims are immigrants from other Caribbean countries, the Middle East, and South Asia, most Muslims are local converts. Muslims worship in two musallahs (informal places of worship) but are in the process of building a mosque. Other religious groups include Baha'is and Rastafarians; according to the 2001 census, Rastafarians numbered approximately 3,500 members.

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 Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations.

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

The Government was revising its registration policy for religious groups, which was pending at the end of the reporting period. The Government suspended all applications for formal registration as a religious group until completion of this process. This moratorium affected the Muslim community, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and approximately 10 other organizations during this period. 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. While awaiting registration, religious groups had the freedom to meet and worship according to their beliefs. In September 2006 the Islamic Association of St. Lucia, an organization that represents a number of traditions within the Muslim community, successfully registered as a nonprofit organization, but due to the moratorium the Government had yet to register it as a religious group.

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

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice.

Some tension existed between the historically dominant Catholic Church and the rapidly growing evangelical groups, some of whom allegedly criticized the Catholic Church during their proselytizing efforts.

In April 2006 a man was remanded to custody, accused of attempting to assassinate the Eastern Caribbean's Catholic Archbishop. At the end of the reporting period, the accused was still in remand as his case was continually postponed.

Although Rastafarian leaders acknowledged that intolerance was gradually decreasing, they complained that discrimination still existed 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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