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What Religion Do Jamaicans Follow?

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religion_in_jamaica_church_in_jamaica_new_irwin_moravianWhat Religion Do Jamaicans Follow? | New Irwin Moravian Church

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

Jamaica has multiple religions that are practised on the island by many different ethnicities.


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Despite this, Jamaica is a predominantly Christian country so you will find that most persons identify as Christians and our public holidays are mainly those recognised in Christianity.

Where the most disparities are, is with the many denominations within Christianity on the island. As the most churched country, and this Guinness world record does not include undocumented churches, you can imagine I’m sure that it could not all be the same church.

Religions in Jamaica

While there is more than one religion in Jamaica, they only account for 8% of the population. They are as follows:

  • Rastafari - 29,000
  • Islam - 5000
  • Hinduism - 1800
  • Judaism - 500
  • Baháʼí - 270
  • Buddhism - 3000

Rastafari

Many persons may have thought that Rastafarianism would have had a larger percentage, however, it is one of the least represented religions on the island although it is the largest of the minority groups.

The truth of the matter is that only 29, 000 Jamaicans identified as Rastafarians in our last census. This makes up less than 1% of our population. Nevertheless, Rastafarianism is one of the most well-known religions in the world and it has influenced most of Jamaica’s popular culture.

Christianity in Jamaica

71% of the population identifies as Christian and of that 71 per cent, 65% is affiliated with some protestant denomination. 21% of the nation is not affiliated with any church, religious or spiritual practice.

The religious (Christian) demography of Jamaica is broken down as follows:

  • Church of God – 26%
  • Seventh-Day Adventist – 12%
  • Pentecostal – 11%
  • Baptist – 7 %
  • Anglican – 3%
  • Roman Catholic – 2%
  • United Church of Christ – 2%
  • Methodist – 2%
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses – 2%
  • Moravian – 1%
  • Brethren – 1%
  • Some Other Form of Spiritual Practice – 2%
  • No religious Affiliation – 21%

Jamaica is predominantly Protestant and not Catholic because of colonialism and the merging of other beliefs and forms of worship with traditional Christianity.

While Jamaica was first colonised by Spain which is largely Roman Catholic, their rule over Jamaica was not nearly as long as the British who are mainly Anglican.

The enslaved persons were not allowed to attend the same church as their masters which led to them adopting Christian beliefs but merging them with spiritual worship from Africa. Today many denominations, namely Revival Zion and Pocomania, Kumina and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church practice this form of worship.

Others would have their own churches where they were deacons and pastors for example the Baptist church where our National Heroes Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle were deacons.

Through different missionary works throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the introduction of other denominations was made to the Jamaican people. Church of God, Seventh Day Adventism, Pentecostal, Moravian, Baptists, Presbyterian, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other churches came to Jamaica during that time.

These various denominations grew over time, spreading across the island and making multiple churches for them to worship.

  • Anglicans - While it is not among the most popular denominations anymore. There are still hundreds of Anglican churches in Jamaica. Because the Anglican church was the main church since colonialism there is a large Anglican church in every parish capital, called the “Parish Church.”

  • Moravians - Also a small number of persons today compared to when the church first started, the Moravian church is quite similar to the Anglian church in both architecture and religious practices. The Moravians were the first to bring education to the enslaved persons and are known for opening schools and colleges associated with the church all over Jamaica. Since then many other churches have followed suit.

  • Seventh-Day Adventists - Adventists in Jamaica are identified as one of the few churches in Jamaica that worship on a Saturday, which is the busiest day of the week instead of the traditional Sunday. They are also easily identified by their diet which restricts the eating of pork and shellfish as well as the decision to not wear jewellery. Most Adventists are vegetarian or vegan. It is one of the fastest-growing denominations on the island. There are also other denominations which have combined the teachings of the Adventist church with other churches to create a whole new church. Examples of this would be the Seventh-Day Church of God or the Seventh-Day Pentecostal Church.

  • Baptists - Baptist churches are very important to Jamaican culture as some of our National Heroes were Baptists. It was through the Baptist church that many revolutions were executed.

Jamaica has credited religion for most of the country’s values and attitudes, and despite the erosion of these most still hold true.

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References & Sources For What Religion Do Jamaicans Follow?

  1. Baptists (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptists (Accessed: October 30, 2022).
  2. The effects of religion on Jamaica's society (no date) My. Available at: https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/the-effects-of-religion-on-jamaicas-society.html (Accessed: October 30, 2022).
  3. Https://www.facebook.com/COGHQ (2021) Church Of God. Available at: https://churchofgod.org/beliefs/church-of-god-is/ (Accessed: October 30, 2022).
  4. Protestantism in Jamaica (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism_in_Jamaica (Accessed: October 30, 2022).

What Religion Do Jamaicans Follow? | Written: October 30, 2022

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