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Jamaica PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2009 15:31
Religious Freedom Ranking
3.5 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement


The Constitution provides for freedom of religion.  The government generally respects this right in practice.

However, Rastafarians, who account for about one tenth of the country’s population, are denied recognition as a religious minority. They also report that the Christian population discriminated against them in employment and other social needs.

The country has a population of 2.7 million.  According to the 2001 census, religious groups include the Church of God, 24 percent; Seventh-day Adventist, 11 percent; Pentecostal, 10 percent; Baptist, 7 percent; Anglican, 4 percent; Roman Catholic, 2 percent; United Church, 2 percent; Methodist, 2 percent; Jehovah’s Witnesses, 2 percent; Moravian, 1 percent; Brethren, 1 percent.  The category “other” included 240,020 Rastafarians, an estimated 5,000 Muslims, 1,453 Hindus, approximately 350 Jews and 279 Baha’is.  It is reported that 21 percent claimed no religious affiliation.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Monday and Christmas.

Registration for religious groups is not mandatory.  However, recognized groups receive tax-exempt status and other special privileges.

Most religious schools are associated with either the Catholic Church or Protestant denominations.  There is at least one Jewish school.  These religious schools are not subject to restriction, nor do they receive special government treatment.

A Rastafarian sect, the Church of Haile Selassie I, continues to be denied as a religious group because of its use marijuana, which is illegal, in religious services.  Members of the Rastafarian community complained that police officials targeted them.  However, it was not clear whether these complaints were discrimination on the basis of belief or were due to the group’s illegal use of marijuana.

There have been no reports of religious prisoners or forced religious conversions.

Muslim and Jewish groups reported that the society was accepting of different religious groups.  Jewish leaders also noted that assimilation and intermarriage were so common that the Jewish community was being greatly reduced.


2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Jamaica

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 20:59