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St. Lucia


International Religious Freedom Report 2004
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
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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 as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 238 square miles, and its population is approximately 163,000. Christianity is the dominant religion; Roman Catholics account for approximately 67 percent of the population, and the Church describes about 40 percent of these members as "active". The second largest group, which has grown rapidly in the last 20 years, is evangelical Christians, which includes Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, and members of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Anglican Church has about 6,000 members (half are active), while Baptists and Methodists are present in smaller numbers.

The total number of non-Christians is very small. There are an estimated 350 Muslims who are primarily local converts, but who also include immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia and other Caribbean countries. Muslims worship in two musallahs (informal places of worship); there are no mosques in the country. Other minority religions include Rastafarianism and the Baha'i faith.

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.

Evangelicals, once discriminated against, are free to be politically active, and two Government ministers are members of evangelical denominations. This circumstance reflects the acceptance by broader society of evangelical denominations.

The Government is secular and does not interfere with an individual's right to worship. The Government maintains a close relationship with the Christian Council, an organization comprised of the Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations.

The Government strongly criticizes and investigates occasional incidents of religious intolerance.

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

The Government requires presentation of a list of at least 100 members to register a religious group. 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 religious groups allows its officials to act in this capacity as well). Muslim leaders applied for official recognition during the reporting period; their application was pending at the end of the period covered by this report due to a delay in gathering the required documents.

The public school curriculum includes Christian education; however, non-Christian students are not required to participate. There are also private schools sponsored by both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

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.

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.

Abuses by Terrorist Organizations

There were no reported abuses targeted at specific religions by terrorist organizations during the period covered by this report.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom, although some tension exists between the historically dominant Catholic Church and the rapidly growing evangelical denominations. Some evangelicals allegedly criticized Catholics and mainline Protestants for adherence to "slave religions" and for not accepting a literal interpretation of the Bible. A Muslim leader claimed that some recent converts to Islam hide their new religion from non-Muslim friends and family to avoid criticism and discrimination. The St. Lucia Christian Council conducts activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different denominations within the Christian faith.

In May 2003, the High Court sentenced two Rastafarian men to hang; at the end of the reporting period, they were in prison awaiting execution. The men were charged with murder and arson in the 2000 killing of a nun and priest who had been set on fire, along with other congregation members, during a Catholic Mass in the capital city of Castries. As a response to this incident, the Catholic Church conducts widely publicized Cathedral Security services each Sunday at the church where the attack took place, and on all feast days to help the congregation feel more secure.

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. The U. S. Embassy also discusses religious freedom issues with local groups and other organizations.



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