| Religious Freedom Ranking:
3.5 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally respects this right in practice. It does not favor any one particular religion.
The country has a population of 1.3 million. According to the latest unofficial estimates (2006), 26 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 24.6 percent Protestant (including 7.8 percent Anglican, 6.8 percent Pentecostal, 4 percent Seventh-day Adventist, 3.3 percent Presbyterian or Congregational, 1.8 percent Baptist and 0.9 percent Methodist), 1.6 percent members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 22.5 percent Hindu and 5.8 percent Muslims. Traditional Caribbean religious groups with African roots include the Spiritual Baptist or Shouter Baptists, 5.4 percent, and the Orisha, 0.1 percent. “Other” religious groups including small Christian groups, Baha’is, Rastafarians, Buddhists and Jews account for 10.7 percent.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Christmas (Christian); Divali (Hindu), Eid al-Fitr (Islamic) and Liberation Day.
The government does not require religious groups to register; however, to receive tax-exempt donations, religious groups must register as nonprofit organizations. Religious groups generally have the same rights and obligations as other legal entities, regardless of whether or not they are registered. They may own land, but they must pay property taxes.
The government subsidizes both nondenominational public schools and religiously associated public schools. It allows for religious instruction in nondenominational public and private schools. It is optional for students to attend such classes. Parents may enroll their children in private schools for religious reasons. The Education Act does not permit homeschooling.
The Ministry of Social Development administers financial grants to religious groups. It also issues recommendations on land use by such groups.
It is illegal to vandalize any place of worship. Government officials speak out against religious discrimination and offer judicial review for those who are victims of such persecution.
The government supports the activities of the Inter-Religious Organization (IRO). Its purpose is coordinating committees for public interfaith dialogue. The IRO interacts with the Ministry of Social Development as well as the Ministry of Education.
Cabinet members, members of parliament and public figures represent every major religious group in the country. They actively promote religious tolerance and harmony.
Foreign religious missionaries must represent a registered religion in order to enter the country for their work. They are allowed to stay in the country for no more than three years per visit but may return after a year’s absence.
There have been no reports of religious prisoners or forced religious conversions.
2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Trinidad and Tobago