Essays in this section:
Overview Essay on Religion
Afrocuban Religion and Syncretism with the Catholic Religion
Missionaries in Jamaica
Voodooism in Haiti
The Church and Slavery: Conversion, Abolition, and Participation

Religion in the Caribbean was an integral part of both the white and black societies during periods of emancipation and afterwards. European missionary groups like the Baptists, Moravians, Quakers, and the Catholics brought Christianity to the islands.  While many of these groups met with resistance, eventually they were accepted and their teachings were promulgated throughout the islands.  Their interest in converting slaves to Christianity led to a mixing of Catholicism and African religions.  Resulting “creolized” religions like Santeria and Vodûn contributed to the culture and identity of countries like Cuba and Haiti respectively, and helped define the shift from slavery to emancipation.

Meanwhile, Protestant missionary groups, traveled and preached throughout the Caribbean, especially the British possessions with the intention of promulgating their brand of Christianity by converting slaves. The British island of Jamaica provides a prime example of the results of white missionary Baptist Chapel at Brown's Townwork.  Missionaries there built churches, schools, and meetinghouses but were met with a great deal of resistance—more from the whites than the slaves.  The slave owners did not like that the missionaries wanted to teach their slaves to read and write, they did not want to give them time off from working in the fields to go to services and sermons and most of all, they did not want their slaves to have minds of their own because they feared that would bring about a rebellion. The slave population did not resist the missionaries as violently as the whites did.  In general, they either accepted the missionaries or ignored them.

The Church and religion as a whole played a major role in the move to abolish slavery in the West Indies. The survival of African religions across the Atlantic passage enabled many slaves to carry on some semblance of their previous cultures to the islands, while the introduction of Christianity to the slaves enhanced their possibilities for emancipation.