printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Suriname


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
July 28, 2014

This is the basic text view. SWITCH NOW to the new, more interactive format.

   
Share

Executive SummaryShare    

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom.

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

U.S. embassy staff, including the Ambassador, continued to promote understanding among religious groups through outreach efforts to the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Bahai communities. These efforts included hosting and attending events with religious groups.

Section I. Religious DemographyShare    

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 567,000 (July 2013 estimate). Approximately 41 percent of the population is Christian, of which half is Roman Catholic, according to the 2004 census. A wide range of other groups, including Moravian, Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, evangelical Protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), make up the remaining Christian population. Twenty percent of the population is Hindu, including the Sanathan Dharma and the Arya Dewaker. Muslims, including Sunni, Ahmadiyya, and the World Islamic Call Society, make up 13.5 percent. Approximately 3 percent adhere to indigenous religions. Bahais, Jews, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris, and Hare Krishnas are also present in small numbers. There are three Rastafarian organizations: Aya Bingi Order, 12th Tribe, and Bobo Shanti.

Some Amerindian and Maroon populations adhere to indigenous religions. Some Amerindians, concentrated principally in the interior and to a lesser extent in coastal areas, practice shamanism through a medicine man (piaiman). Many Maroons, who inhabit the interior, worship nature through a practice that has no special name. Other Maroons, as well as some Creoles in urban areas, worship their ancestors through a rite called wintie. Citizens of Amerindian and Maroon origin who identify as Christian often combine Christian practices with indigenous religious customs.

There is a correlation between ethnicity and religion. Many political parties have strong ethnic ties, and members tend to belong to the same religious group. With the exception of those following indigenous practices, religious groups are not concentrated in any particular region.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious FreedomShare    

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom. A law that prohibits blasphemy in various forms and penalizes it with fines and imprisonment is not enforced.

The constitution permits individuals to choose or change their religion. The constitution categorizes the right to religious freedom as a “personal right and freedom” and states that any violation can be brought before a court of justice. The constitution provides that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of religion. The law does not favor a particular religion, and no tenets of a particular religion are codified in criminal or civil laws.

The government does not require religious groups to register and does not establish requirements for recognition of religious groups.

The law does not permit religious instruction in public schools, although public schools celebrate various religious holidays. Parents may not homeschool children for religious or other reasons. However, they may enroll their children in private schools, many of which have a religious affiliation. Some religious groups manage their own primary and secondary schools, which include religious instruction.

The government provides limited subsidies to a number of public elementary and secondary schools established and managed by various religious groups. While the teachers are civil service employees, religious groups provide all funding with the exception of teachers’ salaries and a small maintenance stipend for the schools. Government-subsidized private schools run by religious groups accept students of all ethnicities and religions.

The armed forces maintain a chaplaincy, with Hindu, Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic clergy available to military personnel of all religious groups. While the chaplaincy provides interfaith services, personnel are also welcome to attend outside religious services.

Government Practices

There were no reports of significant government actions affecting religious freedom.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious FreedomShare    

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

The Inter-Religious Council consisted of representatives of five religious groups: two Hindu groups, two Muslim groups, and the Catholic Church. Council members met monthly to discuss planned interfaith activities and their positions on government policies. The government partially supported and consulted with the council.

Section IV. U.S. Government PolicyShare    

U.S. embassy officials continued to promote understanding among religious groups through regular outreach efforts to the Muslim, Hindu, and Christian communities. These included periodic outreach events with each community, participation in local religious services, and holiday celebrations. The U.S. embassy hosted a Gender-Based Violence Dialogue at which a member of an interfaith organization spoke on the role of religion in combating gender-based violence.

During the year the U.S. Ambassador met with religious leaders at two mosques and a synagogue and hosted an interfaith lunch. Religious freedom was a topic of discussion at all of these meetings.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.