The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. Section 489 of the Penal Code (Publication or Sale of Blasphemous or Obscene Libel) prohibits publication and sale of any obscene or blasphemous book, writing, or representation. This offense is punishable by imprisonment for two years; however, this law is not strictly enforced.
The constitution specifically forbids infringement of a person’s freedom to choose and change his or her religion and provides for the right to practice the religion of one’s choice. The law provides effective remedies to enforce these rights.
Christianity is the dominant religion. Political and public discourse often refers to the country’s strong Christian heritage and Christian themes in general, and the constitution requires the government to respect Christian values. The government meets regularly, both publicly and privately, with The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC), which is composed of religious leaders from the major Christian denominations, to discuss societal, political, and economic issues.
Churches and other religious congregations have no special registration requirements, although they must incorporate legally to purchase land. There are no legal provisions to encourage or discourage the formation of religious communities, which are required to pay the same tariffs and stamp taxes as for-profit companies if they legally incorporate.
Religion is recognized as an academic subject at government schools and is included in mandatory standardized achievement and certificate tests. The country’s Christian heritage has a strong influence on religion classes in government-supported schools, which focus on the study of Christian philosophy, Biblical texts, and, to a lesser extent, comparative and non-Christian religions. The constitution allows students, or their guardians in the case of minors, to decline to participate in religious education and observance in schools. Authorities respect this right, although citizens rarely exercise it.
The practice of Obeah (and Voodoo) is illegal, and those caught practicing it or attempting to intimidate, steal, inflict disease, or restore a person to health under the guise of Obeah may be sentenced to three months in prison.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and Christmas.