The Solomon Islands is an island nation comprising of 6 major and more than 900 smaller islands in the Pacific Ocean in Oceania. The country hosts a population of around 647,581 individuals. According to the CIA World Factbook, Christianity is the dominant religion in the Solomon Islands. Protestantism is the biggest domination of Christianity in the islands. 73.4% of the population are Protestant Christians. Among the various Protestant denominations active in the country, the Church of Melanesia, South Sea Evangelical, and Seventh Day Adventist have the highest followings accounting for 31.9%, 17.1%, and 11.7% of the population of the islands, respectively. The United Church and the Christian Fellowship Church also have significant followings representing 10.1% and 2.5% of the population, respectively.
19.6% of the residents of the Solomon Islands are Roman Catholics. Followers of other Christian denominations and those of other religions account for 2.9%, and 4% of the population, respectively. Only a very small percentage of the population comprises of non-believers (0.03%) and those that do not specify adherence to any religion (0.1%).
History Of Religion In The Solomon Islands
Prior to the European colonization, the Solomon Islands was home to the Papuan-speaking people, Austronesian, and Polynesian peoples. These people had their own traditional animistic beliefs. Animism is regarded by some as the world’s oldest non-organized religion. Believers of animism attribute a spiritual essence to objects of nature. Today, only a small percentage of the islanders practice the indigenous animistic religion. Most of them belong to the Kwaio community living on the Malaita island.
The first contact of the Islanders with the Europeans happened in 1568 when a Spanish navigator landed on one of the islands. However, despite the first visit in the late 16th century, missionaries arrived in the Solomon Islands only in the mid-19th century. Initially, however, they were quite unsuccessful in their attempts to convert the natives to Christianity. At that time, the natives abhorred the Europeans because of blackbirding, a term applied to the brutal treatment and exploitation of the natives by the Europeans.
Later, however, when the Solomon Islands became a British protectorate, the missionaries found it possible to conduct the religious conversions of the indigenous inhabitants. Under the influence of the British administration and in the absence of an indigenous organized religion, most of the islanders were thus converted to Christianity.