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International Religious Freedom Report
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

Kiribati, an island state of approximately 265 square miles, has a population of approximately 90,000.  Christianity was introduced widely into the area by missionaries in the nineteenth century.  Major religions include:  The Roman Catholic Church; the Kiribati Protestant Church (KPC), formerly the Congregational Church; Seventh-Day Adventists; the Baha'i Faith; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Roman Catholics are the dominant Christian denomination and constitute an estimated 54 percent of the population; members of the KPC constitute an estimated 38 percent.  Other religious groups each account for 1 to 2 percent of the population.  Persons with no religious preference account for about 5 percent of the population.

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.

There is no state or politically dominant religion.  The State does not favor a particular religion, nor are there separate categories for different religions.

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

Christianity, the religion of more than 90 percent of the population, is a dominant social and cultural force, but there are amicable relations between the country's various religions. Nonbelievers, who constitute a very small percentage of the residents, do not suffer discrimination.  Virtually all governmental and social functions begin and end with an interdenominational Christian prayer delivered by an ordained minister, cleric, or church official.

Section IV.  U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights.

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