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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.

The Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Seventh-Day Adventist churches and the Islamic mosques each have their own acts of incorporation. Other churches that are not a body corporate are registered as associations with the Registrar General and are entitled to tax-free privileges, similar to a charity. All religious organizations must register in order to be entitled to tax-free privileges. If an organization does not want tax-free privileges, it does not have to register.

According to figures gathered in the 1994 census, 88 percent of the population are Roman Catholic and 8 percent are Anglican. There are other Christian churches, including Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, the Assembly of God, the Pentecostal Church, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Hinduism, Islam, and the Baha'i Faith also are practiced. Almost 50 percent of the population are estimated to regularly practice their faith.

The Government has not demonstrated favoritism towards one religion over another. The leader of the opposition is an Anglican minister. The majority of the government ministers are Catholic. The Government tends to remain outside of religious matters but provides program time to different religious organizations on the national television and radio broadcasting service. On Sunday mornings, a televised broadcast of a Catholic Mass alternates each week with a broadcast of an Anglican service. Whichever religion, either Catholic or Anglican, that did not have its service televised in the morning has a 15-minute radio program broadcast on Sunday evening. On Fridays, there is a 15-minute Islamic radio broadcast. On Saturdays, a 15-minute Baha'i radio program alternates each week with an Adventist broadcast.

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

There are amicable relations among the various religious groups and tolerance for individual religious choice.
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: 10-09-1999