Religion in the Caribbean

Spiritual Diversity from Rastafarianism to Roman Catholicism

Photo credit: © David Snyder |

Caribbean Religion

When it comes to religion, the Caribbean is dominated by Christianity. However, many different sects and cultural adaptations of Christianity can be found throughout the islands. From the religions of slaves and indentured servants to styles developed on the islands themselves, the Caribbean is full of a vibrant variety of faiths.

This overview of the region's religious beliefs is supplemented by more detailed articles about specific religious practices. The links to these articles can be found at the bottom of this page. Christianity is the dominant religious style in the region, but local religions also play an important role in the Caribbean.

When Europeans came to the Caribbean, they brought their own religions: The Spanish and French were devout Roman Catholics, while the British were Protestants. Irish migrants from Britain brought Catholicism with them as well, and the Dutch brought both Catholicism and Dutch Reform beliefs.

The region's religions became even more mixed when the islands were claimed by different nations, as they often were throughout the Caribbean's early history. But religious diversity exists even on the islands that rarely or never changed hands. Slavery and indentured servitude brought many people with many different faiths to the islands.

Still, the biggest challenge (and support) to the growth of Christianity was slavery. Slaves from Africa brought their own religious and spiritual practices with them, some of which combined with Catholic practices and became entirely new religions, while some spiritual beliefs simply occurred out of sight of the white masters. Many of the Caribbean-born slaves were indoctrinated into Christianity.

In fact, the end of slavery helped encourage some religious diversity in the islands. East Indian immigrants brought their own beliefs and practices to the region. Almost one quarter of the population of Trinidad and Tobago is Hindu - one of the highest concentrations of Hindu people in the world. Small populations of Jews and Muslims also live in the Caribbean.

In more recent years, Caribbean natives have even formed their own religion. Rastafarianism is Christianity with a distinctly Caribbean style. This pro-African religion uses the Bible as its base text but takes a decidedly different reading than that of more traditional Christian sects. Like many things Jamaican, it also stands out for political and social causes.

Data divides religions out of a total population of 23,809,622 in surveyed Caribbean countries as follows:

Religious Affiliation in the Caribbean
Religion Total Number Percent (%)
Judaism 1,888 0.01
Islam 15,860 0.07
Hinduism 279,515 1.17
Protestantism 5,912,490 24.85
Catholicism 14,102,041 59.23
Other 3,497,828 14.69

The many distinct religions in the Caribbean can be divided into Christianity, Afro-Caribbean Creolized religions (with Rastafarianism taking a bit from each of these groups) and East Indian religions. Although some may be better known than others, Christianity is by far the dominant religion, although the popularity of specific denominations varies across the region.

Caribbean Religion -- Detailed Articles
Creole Religions
Roman Catholicism

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