Note: This site is no longer updated, but please visit our new site: Freedom to Believe, for additional material.
Thousands of people in the Caribbean have been subject to prosecution for their religious and spiritual healing practice, since the first law against obeah was passed in Jamaica during slavery, until the recent past. As well as the obeah laws, which still exist in many Caribbean countries, there have also been laws against specific religious groups, including the Spiritual Baptist faith, which was outlawed for a substantial part of the twentieth century in Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, and Grenada. Other people faced prosecution for independent religious and healing work under laws against practicing medicine without a license, vagrancy, and ‘night noises’, among others.
Although stories about some of these individuals have been passed down within families, there has been little memory of most of them. Painstaking work in newspapers and colonial archives, however, has revealed information about hundreds of people who were prosecuted for crimes relating to religion between the eighteenth and twentieth century. This website tells some of their stories, explains the legal context of the laws under which they were prosecuted, and directs interested readers to where they might find out more.
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