Religious Beliefs In The Marshall Islands

The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The island nation of the Marshall Islands is an associated state of the US. It is located in the Pacific Ocean where it is part of Micronesia. The Marshall Islands is home about 74,539 individuals. The population is spread out over the 29 coral atolls that make up the country.

92.1% of the population of the country is represented by the ethnic Marshallese people. The mixed Marshallese and other ethnic groups account for 5.9% and 2% of the population, respectively.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Christianity is the religion of the vast majority of the population of the Marshall Islands. 54.8% of the population are Protestant Christians. The followers of the Assemblies of God, the Roman Catholic Church, Mormonism, and the Bukot Nan Jesus Church account for 25.8%, 8.4%, 2.1%, and 2.8% of the population of the Marshall Islands, respectively. Adherents of other Christian denominations and other religions comprise 3.6% and 1% of the population, respectively. 1.5% of the population are not affiliated to any religion.

History Of Religion In The Marshall Islands

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans and the introduction of Christianity, the natives of the Marshall Islands practiced their own traditional religions. They worshipped a pantheon of deities. Conversions to Christianity became common in the region in the second half of the 19th century. Christian missionaries arrived in the Marshall Islands in large numbers and began converting the islanders to the various denominations of Christianity. The local shrines began to be replaced by Christian churches which became the focal point of every town and village in the region. Despite the influence of Christianity, many of the islanders did not completely discard their indigenous rituals and customs. In fact, they practiced a syncretic form of religion that infused the beliefs of both Christianity and their indigenous religions. The belief in magic continues to play an important role in the daily life of the people of the Marshall Islands. Ancestors are highly revered and death is considered as simply a passage into another form of existence.

Freedom Of Religion In The Marshall Islands

The Constitution of the country provides for the freedom of religion. The society is generally religiously tolerant. The government of the Marshall Islands also respects the people’s right to practice a religion of their choice. Missionaries from various Christian denominations are active in the country. Some religious schools like the Rita Christian School, the Assumption Catholic School, etc., are present here. No reports of forced religious conversions or discrimination on the basis of religion have been recorded in the Marshall Islands.

Religious Beliefs In The Marshall Islands

RankReligionPopulation (%)
2Assemblies of God25.8
3Roman Catholic 8.4
4Other Christian3.6
5Bukot Nan Jesus 2.8
8Other Non-Christian1

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