Jamaicans still religious
A leading figure in the local church community has described as "hardly surprising" the findings of a Gleaner-commissioned jobs-to-be-done survey, conducted by pollster Bill Johnson, which has indicated that the vast majority of Jamaicans consider themselves to be, at worst, mildly religious.
Johnson found that overall, 45 per cent of Jamaicans consider themselves to be deeply religious and another 38 per cent somewhat religious, bringing the total number of religious persons to 83 per cent.
The survey of 1,100 Jamaicans, which was conducted on January 17 and 18 with a sampling error of plus or minus three per cent, found that older Jamaican women were more keen to embrace religion, followed by aging males.
African, European influence
The Reverend Nigel Pusey, president of the downtown Kingston Ministers' Fraternal, attributed the findings to a combination of the primarily African culture inherited by the Jamaican society and the influx of heavy European influence over the years.
He said there was also the need to identify with a superior being in a deeply religious social environment.
Johnson had asked respondents: "Do you consider yourself to be a deeply religious person, or somewhat of a religious person, or not much of a religious person, or not a religious person at all?"
Eleven per cent said they were not much of a religious person, while only six per cent indicated that they were not religious at all.
Within the data supplied by Johnson, 35 per cent of the men questioned said they were deeply religious; 43 per cent, somewhat religious; 14 per cent indicated that they were not much of a religious person; and eight per cent were not into religion whatsoever.
Contrastingly, 53 per cent of women said they were deeply religious; 33 per cent claimed to be somewhat religious; eight per cent said they were not much of a religious person; and four per cent snubbed religion altogether.
Pusey said the beliefs could be traced to the primarily afrocentric origins of Jamaicans.
"The African culture brings with it a sense of religiosity," he said.
This, he said, is manifested in a variety of ways, with the influx of Christian heritage coming by way of eurocentric orientations.
"But there were also expressions in Rastafarianism that would reflect the majority of the people in race or colour," he added.
He said that to a lesser extent, some Jamaicans embraced kumina out of Africa, Islam out of Asia, Judaism, and other small groups practising other forms of worship, consistent with the country's history and the movement of people.
"So I am not surprised that we would see ourselves as religious, from the African background," said Pusey.
Among the age cohorts, 29 per cent of Jamaicans between 18 and 24 claimed that they were deeply religious, while 44 per cent admitted to being somewhat religious.
On the other hand, 16 per cent of that age group said they were not much of a religious person, while 10 per cent totally spurned religion.
Among the 25 to 34 age cohort, 37 per cent deemed themselves to be deeply religious; 44 per cent said they were somewhat religious; while 12 per cent were not much of a religious person; and six per cent steered clear of religion.
In the 35 to 44 age bracket, 47 per cent considered themselves to be deeply religious; 37 per cent somewhat religious; while nine per cent said they were not much of a religious person; and six per cent would have nothing to do with religion.
Fifty-nine per cent of persons 45 to 54 years old said they were deeply religious, 30 per cent somewhat religious, eight per cent not much of a religious person, and three per cent not religious.
Sixty-four per cent of persons between 55 and 64 years old took on the label of deeply religious; 25 per cent, somewhat religious; while 10 per cent were not very into religion.
Notably, there was no one found in this age group who totally avoided religion.
At 65 years and older, 74 per cent felt they were deeply religious; 13 per cent somewhat religious; while nine per cent said they were not not much of a religious person; and four per cent kept totally away from religion.