St. Lucia

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.

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

St. Lucia is an island with a total area of 238 square miles and a population of approximately 138,000.  The dominant religion is Christianity, and some 80 percent of the island's residents are Roman Catholic.  There also are Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist and Jehovah's Witnesses communities.  Small minority religions include the Baha'i Faith and Rastafarianism. 

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 generally protects this right in full and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The Government is secular, but most government officials are Christian.  The Government does not interfere with an individual's right to worship.  Christian holy days such as Good Friday, Easter, Whit Monday, and Christmas are national holidays.  The Government does not take any particular steps to promote interfaith understanding.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally unrestricted practice of religion.

In September 2000, customs authorities temporarily detained a visiting publisher entering the country after seizing a number of books he was carrying that reflected religious themes.  Book titles included: The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Greater Key of Solomon, The Lost Books of the Bible, and The Ancient Mysteries of Melchizedek.  The books were seized and reviewed under laws that ban importing immoral or pornographic materials. 

Abuses of Religious Freedom

On December 31, 2000, two men, alleged to be members of the Rastafarian movement, attacked a Sunday Mass in a Catholic Church.  They killed a nun, set the priest on fire, and wounded 12 other persons.  The authorities charged the men with murder and arson.  The trial was ongoing at the end of the period covered by this report.  Rastafarian leaders criticized the attack, and Archdiocese representatives criticized what they termed "an atmosphere of intolerance" and a "callous disrespect for authority" in the country.  The Government criticized the attack as the work of mentally disturbed persons who underscored the plight of "impoverished and marginalized youth" alienated from societal norms.  

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

Relations between the various religious communities are generally amicable.  The St. Lucia Christian Council conducts activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different denominations within the Christian faith.

Section IV.  U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom with the Government, local groups, and other organizations in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.