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by Tracie Blake, Associate Writer
Religion is a very important part of everyday life in Jamaica. Primarily
on Saturdays and Sundays the streets are filled with adults and
children holding their Bibles and heading to and from Church.
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There is a church on almost every corner of Jamaican streets. I am
serious! Check the Guinness Book of World Records; we are listed as the
country with the most churches per square mile!
As slaves, our
descendants were not allowed to attend church. But, they were given
Sunday as a rest day. On this day, their Masters would attend church
and the slaves were left up to their own devices. So, they decided to
keep church also. These ‘services’ consisted mainly of singing, drumming
This changed somewhat when the Bible was
first introduced by two black pastors in 1770 that were freed and took
up their homes in Jamaica.
They were Baptists and preached and
read to the slaves from the Bible. They eventually setup schools and
taught the slaves to read so they could read and understand the bible
This blossomed into a strong Christianity faith.
To today’s date, Jamaicans have remained predominantly Christians. However, this has been broken off into many different denominations such as:
- Church of God,
- Seventh Day Adventist
- Seventh Day Baptist and
- Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In fact, there are over one hundred denominations in Jamaica, however, the Church of God and Seventh Day Adventist accounting for the major proportion of the group.
New Irwin Moravian Church
The one constant in all these congregations however is Christianity.
With the mixture of many cultures in the island, other non traditional religions were were introduced.
Named after Ras Tafari, an African Prince who was eventually crowned King. This is a religion that originated here in Jamaica with strong African roots.
One of the defining attributes of this belief is the non cutting of the hair. The emphasis on healthy eating and the smoking of marijuana are other notables.
This is based on a belief in God and Abraham whose life and relationship with God is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.
These religions are heavily rooted in African rituals Singing, drumming, and the calling on spirits are attributes of these faiths.
This came about by the employment of indentured labour from Asia, primarily India.
Religion here is truly a testament to the diversity of our people. Our motto could not be more fitting; after all, it is ‘Out of Many One People’.
[selected pictures from flickr]
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