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U.S. Department of State
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999

Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC, September 9, 1999


Section I. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

Christianity was introduced widely into the area by missionaries in the 19th century. Prominent religions include the United Church of Christ (formerly Congregational), the Assembly of God, and the Roman Catholic Church. Although there are no reliable published surveys on the number of practitioners of individual religions, anecdotal evidence indicates that the United Church of Christ, known as the "Protestant" Church, is dominant and adhered to by over half the population. The Assembly of God and the Roman Catholic Church make up the majority of the remaining practitioners. Also represented are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventists, and the Baha'i Faith.

There are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Seventh-Day Adventists. Religious schools include the Assumption Catholic School and the Rita Christian School, as well as facilities operated by the United Church of Christ and the Assembly of God.

The Government takes no active steps to promote interfaith understanding, and it does not intervene in interfaith discussion.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion 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 II. Societal Attitudes

Although Christianity is a dominant social and cultural force, there are amicable relations between the country's religious denominations. Nonbelievers, who constitute a very small percentage of the residents, do not suffer discrimination. Typically, governmental and social functions begin and end with an interdenominational Christian prayer delivered by an ordained minister, cleric, or church official.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights.

[End of Document]

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Revised last: 11-09-1999