Religious Beliefs In Jamaica

A Christian church in Jamaica.
A Christian church in Jamaica.

Jamaica is an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea. The country encompasses an area of 10,990 square km and hosts a population of 2,890,299.

Christianity is the dominant religion in Jamaica. According to the CIA World Factbook, Protestant Christians account for 64.8% of the population of the country. Only 2.2% of the population practice Roman Catholicism. Other religions practiced in the country include Rastafarianism (1.1%), Jehovah's Witnesses (1.9%), and others (6.5%). A large proportion of the Jamaican population, about 21.3%, claim not to adhere to any religion. 2.3% of the population does not specify anything regarding their religion.

The Dominant Religion In Jamaica

Although Protestantism is currently the most popular religion in the country, Christianity was introduced in Jamaica in the form of Roman Catholicism. The Spanish settlers who arrived on the island in 1509 were the first to bring the religion to Jamaica. Most of the indigenous people of Jamaica, primarily the Arawak and Taíno peoples, were killed or died of disease upon the arrival of the Europeans. A large population of African slaves was then brought to work on the plantations established by the Europeans in the country. Most of them converted to the religion of their owners, that is, Catholicism. Later, however, when Baptists played an important role in the abolition of slavery, the African population of the country started favoring Protestantism over Catholicism and soon the former became the religion of the majority in Jamaica.

The Birth Of The Rastafari Movement In Jamaica

The Rastafari Movement, a religious movement, began in Jamaica in the 1930’s. At that time, nearly 98% of Jamaicans were descendants of the African slaves brought by the Europeans to the island. A section of this population started worshipping the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, as God incarnate. To these believers, the emperor was an incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Rastafari movement, though not hugely successful, gained a significant following in the country and elsewhere. The 2011 census of Jamaica counted 29,026 followers of Rastafarianism in the country.

Other Religions Practiced In Jamaica

As of 2011, there are about 8,000 adherents of the Bahá'í faith in Jamaica. A small community of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists also live in the country.

Religious Freedom In Jamaica

The Constitution of Jamaica provides for the freedom of religion. The policies of the Government and the legal system of the country generally respect this right of the people. Discrimination on the basis of religion is prohibited by law. The Jamaican people are generally tolerant towards the religion of other members of the society.


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