Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam are the dominant religions in Guyana. The majority of the Indo-Guyanese are Hindus, although a substantial number are Muslims. Some Indo-Guyanese have converted to Christianity, but conversion is often for professional reasons. Some converts continue their Hindu or Muslim rituals in addition to participating in Christian services. Most Afro-Guyanese are Christians, although a few have converted to Hinduism or Islam. Guyana's other ethnic groups are largely Christian. In 1990, some 52 percent of Guyanese were Christian, 34 percent were Hindu, and 9 percent were Muslim. Of the Christians, 65 percent were Protestant and 35 percent Roman Catholic.
Christianity's status as Guyana's dominant system of values is a consequence of colonial history. To the European planters, colonial administrators, and missionaries, the profession of Christian beliefs and observance of Christian practices were prerequisites to social acceptance. Even though the planters discouraged the teaching of their religion to the slaves, Christianity eventually became as much the religion of the Africans as of the Europeans. Indeed, after abolition, Christian institutions played an even more important role in the lives of the former slaves than in the lives of the masters. By the time the East Indians and other indentured groups arrived in Guyana, a new syncretic Afro-Guyanese culture in which Christianity played an important part had already been established. Only since the mid-twentieth century, with the growth of the Indo-Guyanese population and the efforts of their ethnic and religious organizations, have Muslim and Hindu values and institutions been recognized as having equal status with those of Guyana's Christians.
|Country Studies main page | Guyana Country Studies main page|