Perfect Paradise: Culture: Religion

According to many researchers, Bahamians have more houses of worship per capita than any other nation, with one for every eight people. (This is disputed by Jamaicans, who have more churches per capita, but not more houses of worship overall.) Religious life in the Bahamas is all but inseparable from the general cultural life, with most people subscribing to various Christian beliefs. More than 90& of Bahamians belong to at least one religious tradition, and the country has one of the highest service attendance rates in the world.

The most recent national survey regarding religion reflects the great diversity of the Bahamian people: 35% are Baptists, 15% are Anglicans, 14% are Roman Catholics, 8% are Pentecostals, 5% are Seventh-Day Adventists, 5% are Church of God-affiliated, and 4% are Methodists, with the rest representing a wide variety of other traditions. The Greek Orthodox Church as well as the Jehovah's Witnesses have large presences in the Bahamas, and growing immigrant communities have brought Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and the Baha'i faith. Unlike in most other Caribbean nations, most traditions are extremely well integrated racially and also represent members from all social classes.

The Bahamas is also a stronghold for Obeah, a shamanistic folk magic tradition that is similar to voodoo, which itself is practiced by many in the large Haitian community. Obeah, which has greatly influenced the very superstitious nature of Bahamians, combines many West African folk magic traditions with aspects of Christianity, especially fundamentalist Protestantism. Although the Bahamas is a generally free nation when it comes to religion, the actual practice of Obeah (not the belief in it) is illegal, and anyone caught practicing attempting to "intimidate, steal, inflict disease, or restore a person to health under the guise of Obeah" can be imprisoned for up to three months, though there is no evidence that this law has ever been enforced.

Due to the major role religion plays in Bahamian life, there are very few Bahamians who would publicly identify as atheist or agnostic. In fact, religion is taught as an academic subject in Bahamian schools, almost always from a Christian viewpoint, and although the law allows students to decline taking courses on moral grounds, that right is rarely invoked. However, according to the International Religious Freedom Report, Bahamian society is becoming more and more tolerant of minority religions, even though mainstream religious figures still hold considerable influence over politics and the government.