Micronesia, Federated States of
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.
There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and Government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.
The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.
Section I. Religious Demography
The country has an area of approximately 260 square miles and its population is an estimated 107,000, according to the 2000 census. The country consists of 607 islands spread over a 2,000-mile long swath of ocean; diverse languages and cultures often exist within each of the country's four states. Several Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, are present in every state. Most Protestant groups trace their roots to American Congregationalist missionaries. On the island of Kosrae, the population is approximately 7,800, and 95 percent are Protestants; on Pohnpei, the population of 35,000 is evenly divided between Protestants and Catholics. On Chuuk and Yap, an estimated 60 percent are Catholic and 40 percent are Protestant. Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Salvation Army, Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the Baha'i Faith also are represented. There is a small group of Buddhists on Pohnpei. Attendance at religious services is generally high; churches are well supported by their congregations and play a significant role in civil society.
Most immigrants are Filipino Catholics who have joined local Catholic churches. The Filipino Iglesia Ni Cristo also has a church in Pohnpei.
In the 1890s, on the island of Pohnpei, intermissionary conflicts and the conversion of clan leaders resulted in religious divisions along clan lines, which persist today. More Protestants live on the western side of the island, while more Catholics live on the eastern side.
Missionaries of many faiths work within the country, including Catholics, Baptists, and Mormons.
Section II. Status of Religious Freedom
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels strives to protect this right in full and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The Bill of Rights forbids the establishment of a state religion and governmental restrictions on freedom of religion. There is no state religion.
Christmas and Good Friday are national holidays; they do not adversely affect any particular religion.
Foreign missionary groups operate without hindrance in all four states. There are numerous church-sponsored schools, and religious groups operate radio stations broadcasting religious programming on Pohnpei and Yap.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.
There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.
Abuses by Terrorist Organizations
There were no reported abuses targeted at specific religions by terrorist organizations during the period covered by this report.
Section III. Societal Attitudes
The generally amicable relations among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.
Section IV. U.S. Government Policy
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its policy to promote human rights. Representatives of the U.S. Embassy regularly meet with the leaders of religious communities. The Embassy also worked closely with church-related nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in its efforts to promote good governance.
In 2004, two Pacific Island Fund grants were awarded to church-related NGOs. In addition, the Voice of America (VOA) has provided equipment so that a church-owned radio station can relay VOA programming. The Embassy also nominated an individual to participate in an educational visit to the United States that focused on the relationship between religion and community.