Religion in Vanuatu

Religion in Vanuatu

Approximately 83% of the population of Vanuatu is Christian. An estimated 32% is Presbyterian, 13% Roman Catholic, 13% Anglican, and 11% Seventh-day Adventist. [ International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Benin] . United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). "This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain."] Groups that together constitute 14% include the Church of Christ, the Apostolic Church, the Assemblies of God, and other Christian denominations. The John Frum Movement, a political party that also is an indigenous religious group, is centered on the island of Tanna and includes about 5% of the population. The Baha'i Faith, Muslims, Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) also are active. There are believed to be members of other religions within the foreign community; they are free to practice their religions, but they are not known to proselytize or hold public religious ceremonies.

Missionaries representing several Western churches brought Christianity to the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some foreign missionaries continue this work; however, approximately 90% of the clergy of the established churches are now indigenous. The Summer Institute of Linguistics is active in translating the Bible into the country's many indigenous languages.

The Constitution of Vanuatu provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. The US government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice in 2007; however, some churches and individuals objected to the missionary activities of nontraditional religious groups and continued to suggest they be curtailed. There was some controversy regarding a planned visit by the Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon. No visit took place, but pressure remained on the Government from some religious groups to deny an entry visa.

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