We know next to nothing of the religious practices of the original Amerindian inhabitants of Barbados or of the slaves, for most of the slavery period. The African Slaves undoubtedly brought their ancestral faiths with them, but to what extent they were able to practice these, or how they developed in Barbados, is impossible to tell from the brief and dismissive comments of white writers, or the very limited archaeological evidence available.
The bulk of the white population were adherents of Anglicanism and in the early 19thcentury this became the faith of most black Barbadians as well. In the 17th century many of the indentured servants, particularly the Irish, were Roman Catholic and in the same period there were significant numbers of Jews and Quakers among the whites. In the later 18thcentury, both the Moravians and Methodists began to have an impact.
The picture began to change in the late 19th century with the arrival of the Christian Mission and other revivalist churches, mostly of North American origin. These have gained a very large following between them and there are no over a hundred Christian denominations active in the island. These include many small and large churches under the umbrella of the Pentecostal Assembly, the Churches of the Nazarene, Baptists, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Brethren, the Spiritual Baptists and other small, independent, “one door” churches, as well as non-Christian faiths such as Judaism, Islam, Sai Baba and Hinduism.
While church membership and participation remain relatively strong, there is a marked preponderance of older members in most of the traditional churches and a recognized drifting away of the younger ones.
-this excerpt was taken from the Third Edition of A to Z of Barbados Heritage, page 304 – RELIGION
The oldest Theological College in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest tertiary institution in the region is located right here in Barbados? Make sure to visit Codrington College to also experience the beauty and majesty of the property.
This third edition of the A to Z of Barbados Heritage covers almost every aspect of the island from its geological birth, its colonisation by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, the arrival of Europeans and Africans and their transformation of this rock to a modern-day nation state.
It is an encyclopaedic introduction to our rich cultural heritage, from the indigenous flora and fauna to the unique architecture and historic artefacts, the forgotten games and the ‘immortal’ traditions and cuisine; the national heroes and the sporting heroes. In short, as the late literary icon John Wickham wrote of the first edition, it is a cultural vocabulary of a ‘Singular Island’. It’s completely revised with 40 new entries and magnificent photos.
Written by C.M. Sean Carrington, Henry S. Fraser, John T. Gilmore and G. Addington Forde