Most of Jamaicans adhere to Christian faiths. However, the country’s diversity is exhibited by the large number of religions some of which are unique only to the island. The nature of Jamaica’s religion and by extension the island’s rich culture has been heavily influenced by its history. Most of the Jamaicans are Christians with 62% of all Jamaicans being Protestants and adhering to Seventh Day Adventism, the Church of God, Pentecostal, Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist churches. Two percent of the population (about 50, 000 people) are Catholics, 2% are Jehovah’s witnesses with a small section of the population professing to Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Creole religions. Some 21% of Jamaicans are atheists and as such are not affiliated to any religion. There are at least 24,020 Rastafarians according to a census conducted in 2001.
The Rastafari Movement
The Rastafari movement is originated from Jamaica in the 1930s from the descendants of former slaves in the island and has since increased in membership in the Caribbean Islands and all over the world. The movement is Abrahamic with its adherents worshipping Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the reincarnation of Jesus with some even viewing him as God the Father. The Rastafarians are monotheists and believe in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the faith, Haile Selassie is God the Son as he is Jesus incarnate while the Holy Spirit lives in each of the Rastafarians. As such they refer to themselves as I and I in reference to their own person and that of the Holy Spirit living in them.
The Rastafarians believe that Ethiopia is the promised paradise and refer to it as Zion while they refer to the Western countries and their values and culture as Babylon. They see life as a constant fight between Zion or good and Babylon or evil. The Rastafarians believe in Life Everliving where a chosen few will continue to live in the world forever and ever. The Rastafari celebrate several religious ceremonies including that of reasoning where adherents communally smoke cannabis, their holy herb, that with each person in the group passing it to their neighbor to the left while they discuss their religious dogmas and about life in general. They also celebrate Grounation Day on April 21 to celebrate Selassie’s visit to Jamaica with feast, song and dance and smoking of cannabis as well as several Ethiopian Orthodox celebrations. Due to their belief that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, they do not build physical places of worship. They are mostly apolitical and reject all isms including Capitalism and Communism as part of the Western (Babylon) culture.
The Jamaicans are mostly religious with their government granting them and facilitating their right of worship. Due to the diversity in the island and the extent of their freedoms, many Jamaicans are affiliated to different religions. The only religion that is indigenous to the island, however, and which has gained followers all over the world is the Rastafarian movement which is a unique Schism of Christianity and tradition and incorporates new aspects of religion that do not feature in any other mainstream religion.
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