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, and prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote 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 170 square miles and a population of 77,000. According to the 2001 census report, which has the most reliable figures available, 74 percent of the population is Christian. The Anglican Church is the largest religious denomination, accounting for an estimated 26 percent of the population. The Methodist, Moravian, and Roman Catholic churches account for less than 10 percent each. The United Evangelical Association, an organization that includes most independent evangelical churches, claims an estimated 25 percent of the population, and Jehovah's Witnesses number more than 1,000 members. The total number of non-Christians is small; they include an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Rastafarians, more than 200 Muslims, nearly 200 Hindus, and approximately 50 members of the Baha'i Faith. There are more than 4,000 atheists or persons who do not follow a particular religion.
Section II. Status of Religious Freedom
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; however, the Government maintained a close relationship with the Antigua Christian Council. The Prime Minister is responsible for the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, whose role is to coordinate and facilitate greater interaction between churches, other religious organizations, and the Government, and to facilitate the free movement of pastors into the country.
The Christian holy days of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and Christmas are national holidays.
The Constitution prohibits members of the clergy from running for elected office.
Religious groups are not required to register with the Government; however, groups are required to incorporate to own property. Groups that are registered receive tax and duty-free concessions, especially for building and renovation.
Public schools are secular; religious education is not part of the curriculum.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.
Rastafarians complained that the use of marijuana, an aspect of their religious ritual, was prohibited.
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, and prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom; however, Rastafarians complained of discrimination, 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. The U.S. Embassy also discussed these issues with local religious groups.