The constitution provides for freedom of conscience, thought, and religion, including the right to worship and to practice one’s religion. It forbids infringement on an individual’s freedom to choose or change his or her religion and prohibits discrimination based on belief. Parliament may limit religious practices in the interest of defense, public safety, health, public order, or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of others. This includes a prohibition on marijuana, which holds religious significance for the Rastafarian community. The constitution refers to “an abiding respect for Christian values” in its preamble; however, there is no state-established religious body or official religion.
The practice of Obeah is illegal, and those caught practicing it or attempting to intimidate, steal, inflict disease, or restore a person to health through the practice of Obeah may be sentenced to three months in prison.
The publication and sale of any blasphemous book, writing, or representation is punishable by up to two years in prison; however, opinions on religious issues “expressed in good faith and in decent language” are not subject to prosecution under the law.
Religious groups are not required to register, although they must legally incorporate to purchase land. There are no legal provisions to encourage or discourage the formation of religious communities, which have the same taxation requirements as for-profit companies if they incorporate.
Religion is a recognized academic subject at government schools and is included in mandatory standardized achievement and certificate tests. Religion classes in government-supported schools focus on the study of Christian philosophy, Biblical texts, and, to a lesser extent, comparative and non-Christian religions. Religious groups may establish private schools. The constitution states that no one shall be compelled to participate in religious instruction or observances of a religion other than his or her own. It allows students, or their guardians in the case of minors, to decline to participate in religious education and observance in schools.