There are diverse religions that are practiced on the Caribbean Island of Saint Martin. The different religions on the island offer an interesting perspective of the values and principles that the people of Sint Maarten live by.
Most of the population on the French side of St. Martin are part of the Roman Catholic Church, whereas the Dutch side of St. Maarten favors Protestant denominations such as Methodism. Some of the other religions that can be found in Sint Maarten are Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and more. The table below shows the percentages of the population of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin and their religion.
|Religions in St. Maarten/St. Martin||Population in percentage (%)|
|Other (Buddhist, Sikh, Rastafarian)||1.30%|
Table of Contents
- 1. Roman Catholic (33.10%)
- 2. Pentecostal (14.70%)
- 3. Methodist (10.00%)
- 4. None (7.90%)
- 5. Seventh-day Adventists (6.60%)
- 6. Hindu (5.20%)
- 7. Baptist (4.70%)
- 8. Christian (4.10%)
- 9. Anglican (3.10%)
- 10. Other Protestant (2.80%)
- 11. No response (2.40%)
- 12. Jehovah’s Witness (1.70%)
- 13. Evangelical (1.40%)
- 14. Other (Buddhist, Sikh, Rastafarian) (1.30%)
- 15. Islam/Jewish (1.10%)
- How does religion affect Sint Maarten culture?
1. Roman Catholic (33.10%)
The Roman Catholic religion is a popular Christian denomination on the French side of St. Martin. The teachings of the Catholic Church are centered around the belief that it is the one holy Catholic and Apostolic church that was founded by Jesus Christ. The bishops in the Catholic Church are considered to be successors of Christ’s apostles and the Pope is viewed as the successor to Saint Peter who was granted the role as the preeminent of the apostles by Jesus Christ.
The Roman Catholic churches in Sint Maarten uphold the trinity doctrine along with other church traditions that have been preserved for centuries in the church. Some of the teachings in the Roman Catholic Church include the immortality of the soul, a heavenly reward for righteous people, punishment in hellfire for the unrepentant sinner, authority of scripture, purgatory, veneration of Saints and more.
Some of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church that have been incorporated into the celebrations that are held in Sint Maarten are Easter and Christmas, during which there are prayer services and gift giving ceremonies for those in need. The Catholic Church has also worked in alliance with the Dutch government to build some of the schools that have helped provide education for many of the locals in St. Maarten.
The Marigot Catholic Church is a historical monument on the French side of St. Martin. The historical church in Marigot was the first Catholic Church that was built on the French side of the island in the year 1941, while the Saint Martin of Tours Church in Philipsburg was the first Catholic Church to be built on the Dutch side of St. Maarten in the year 1844. The population of those who practice the Catholic faith in St. Martin is at least 33.1 percent. Some of the Roman Catholic churches on both the French and Dutch side of St. Martin are listed below.
- Mary Star of the Sea Church in Grand Case
- St. Martin of Tours Church in Marigot
- Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Philipsburg
2. Pentecostal (14.70%)
The Pentecostal Church is a Protestant Christian religion in St. Maarten. Pentecostalism expresses belief in a direct personal experience of God through baptism by the Holy Spirit. This baptism by the Holy Spirit is believed to enable a person to receive spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine healing. The Pentecostal religion also teaches that the Bible is a credible source of divine teaching and that a person can experience a new birth by repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Most of the Pentecostal Churches in St. Martin are known to have lively musical church services which helps uplift the community that attends these services. Some of the Pentecostal church services are conducted in different languages such as English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and French.
The population of Pentecostal Church members in St. Maarten is at least 14.7 percent. There are different denominations of Pentecostal churches throughout the island of St. Maarten. Some of the different Pentecostal churches in St. Martin are listed below.
- United Pentecostal church international in Saint Maarten
- Praise Tabernacle Church SXM
- Fountain of Living Waters Ministries Church
- SHORAC Ministries
- Christian Fellowship Church
3. Methodist (10.00%)
The Methodist religion is a protestant Christian denomination in Sint Maarten. Methodism places scripture from the Bible as a primary authority, however, the religion also adheres to other Christian traditions such as historic creeds. The Methodist faith includes doctrines such as imparted righteousness, new birth, works of mercy, assurance, and entire sanctification. Most Methodist Churches also teach that Jesus Christ is God’s son and died for the salvation of all humans.
The Methodist Churches in Sint Maarten have an impact on some of the communities in Sint Maarten. Some of the Methodists Churches hold live musical concerts, educational events for some of the youth, as well as participate in various social movements such as black history month in aims to educate and empower the communities in St. Maarten.
The Methodist Church in Philipsburg was first established in 1851 and has been in existence for at least 170 years. The population of Methodists in St. Maarten is at least 10 percent. There are at least 6 Methodist churches in different locations on the island of St. Martin. Some of the locations of the Methodist Churches on the island are listed below.
- Cole Bay
- Simpson Bay
- St. Peter’s Betty’s Estate
- Zion Sucker Garden
4. None (7.90%)
There are some people in Saint Martin who are non-religious. The attitudes, beliefs or activities of non-religious people are not linked to any of the religious organizations in St. Martin. The non-religious people in St. Martin make up at least 7.9 percent of the population. Some of the different kinds of non-religious people that can be found in St. Martin are listed below.
- Pantheists: People who believe in the universe as a representation or manifestation of God.
- Antitheist: People who oppose religious structures in society and view them as dangerous or destructive.
- Atheists: People who do not believe in the concept of a creator.
- Agnostics: People who do not agree with the concept of God but refrain from offending colleagues or family members who belong to a religion.
- Humanists: People who center their beliefs on the human ability to build happy communities through qualities such as self-determination, compassion, and equality.
- Freethinkers: People who do not agree with the establishment of churches and the belief in the Bible.
- Skeptics: People who have doubts about some of the religious doctrines that they are exposed to.
5. Seventh-day Adventists (6.60%)
Seventh-day Adventists are a protestant Christian denomination in St. Maarten. The Seventh-day Adventist Churches in St. Martin are renowned for holding their services on a Saturday in line with the Sabbath according to the Hebrew calendar. Some of the teachings of Seventh-day Adventists include the emphasis on the second coming of Jesus Christ as well as common Christian teachings such as the trinity and the credibility of the Bible as the primary source of divine instruction.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Martin is an evangelical establishment that aims to spread the message of the gospel to the community on the island. The Church carries out its commission to impart scripture as well as educate children at the St. Maarten Seventh-Day Adventist School. This school offers basic education and teaches the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to children aged 4 years to 12 years old.
The first Sabbath on the island was held in Philipsburg in December of the year 1950. The growing population of Seventh-day Adventists is at least 6.6 percent of the population in Sint Maarten. There are at least 3 Seventh-day Adventist Churches in St. Maarten. Some of the Churches in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Philipsburg SDA Church
- St. Peters Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Ephesus SDA Church
6. Hindu (5.20%)
The Hindu religion is practiced and organized by the SXM Hindu Organization in St. Maarten. Hinduism is considered to be a way of life for many who practise the religion. Hinduism is diverse and includes teachings based on mythology, philosophies, rituals, theology, cosmology and more. The Hindu community in St. Maarten encourages a peaceful way of life based on morals, values and core principles.
The first Hindu gathering (satsang) was held on November 11 2012, at the Belair Community Center in Sint Maarten. Some of the festivals that are held by the Hindu religion in St. Maarten are Diwali, Navrati and Holi. The goal of the Hindu Organization is to preserve the culture among the younger Hindu generation and help them to find balance in their lives through their faith.
The long-term goal of the Hindu Organization is for the younger generation to pass on what they learn to future generations who will keep the Hindu religion alive in St. Maarten. The population of Hindus in St. Martin is at least 5.2 percent. The Hindu Organization holds its prayers and gatherings (satsangs) in Cole Bay on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten.
7. Baptist (4.70%)
The Baptist religion is an Evangelical Christian denomination in Saint Martin. The Baptist religion emphasizes baptism into Christianity by being completely immersed in water. The doctrines of the Baptist religion include the teachings of the accountability of the soul, salvation by just faith alone, scripture alone as the rule of faith and practise, as well as congregationalism. The Baptist religion also includes Calvinist and Arminian beliefs.
The Baptist Church in St. Maarten conducts ministry services that are tailored to different members of the community such as women, children, teenage youth, singles and couples. The Baptist Church also makes visits to prisons and hospitals on the island to spread the good news to people there. There are lively musical performances at some of the services of the Baptist Churches in St. Maarten.
The oldest Baptist Church in St. Maarten is the Good News Baptist Church which was founded in the year 1968. The population of Baptist Church members in St. Maarten is at least 4.7 percent. Some of the Baptist churches in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Good News Baptist Church
- New Testament Baptist Church
- Grace International Baptist Church
8. Christian (4.10%)
There are different Christian denominations in Sint Maarten. Most of the Christian religions on the island center their teachings and beliefs primarily on the Bible as well as on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Some of the Christian religions believe in the trinity, while others believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son and not part of a trinity. There are traditional Christians who value historical creeds and there are also modernized Christians who aim to draw in the youth of St. Maarten to Christianity by creating an inviting atmosphere through musical concerts and youth events.
The Christian religions impact some of the communities in Saint Martin in various ways. Some of the Christian churches have built schools to improve education on the island, other Christian organizations engage in community service such as spreading the good news of the Bible to their neighbors, and other Christians participate in different charities and activities for the benefit of the locals of St. Martin.
The population of Christians in Sint Maarten is 4.1%. Some of the people in Sint Maarten can profess to be Christians while not belonging to any religious organization, whereas others identify with some of the Christian organizations on the island. Some of the different Christian organizations in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Roman Catholics
- Seventh-day Adventists
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
9. Anglican (3.10%)
The Anglican religion is a traditional Western Church in St. Maarten that originated from the Church of England. Anglicans base their beliefs on the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers and the traditions of the Apostolic Church. The Anglican churches in St. Maarten feature a priesthood that consists of bishops, deacons, and priests. Some of the doctrines of the Anglican faith include the authority of the Bible, the trinity doctrine, a hierarchy of authority according to scripture and tradition, the justification doctrine and more. The Anglican Church also has Protestant and Catholic influences.
The Anglican Church helps the community of St. Martin through companionship programs that offer support for individuals who are dealing with life challenges. The Anglican community also offers hospitality and meals for those in need and at times they visit the homes of those who are ill to comfort and pray for them among other charitable deeds.
The population of Anglicans on the island of St. Maarten is at least 3.1 percent. Some of the Anglican Churches on both the French and Dutch sides of Sint Maarten are listed below.
- SS Philips and James in Marigot
- Saints Simon and Jude Anglican Church in Philipsburg
10. Other Protestant (2.80%)
There are other Protestant Churches on the island that are separate from the most commonly known Protestant Churches in Saint Martin. Protestantism is a religious movement that was established in opposition to some of the practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church such as the use of ordained priests as mediators between God and people among other reasons. Many Protestants base their beliefs primarily on the Bible as well as on the life and teachings of Jesus. Some protestants believe in the trinity doctrine while others are nontrinitarian.
There are different groups of Protestants in St. Martin who contribute to the well-being of the community in a number of ways. Some of the ways that Protestants impact the different communities on the island is through charity work such as partnering with the government to build schools, offering counseling services for different age groups and families, as well as providing online sermons and musical concerts on social platforms such as Facebook and YouTube for the benefit of individuals who cannot attend services in person.
The Protestant community make up 2.8 percent of the population in Sint Maarten. Some of the different Protestant Churches in St. Maarten are listed below.
- Universal Church
- The Salvation Army SXM
- Praise Tabernacle Church
- Living Praise Ministry
- Christian Assembly Ministries International
11. No response (2.40%)
There are some people in Sint Maarten who prefer not to give a response when asked about their religious identity.
12. Jehovah’s Witness (1.70%)
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a restorationist Christian organization in St. Martin. This religious group establishes their doctrines based on interpretations from the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the end of the current world system at Armageddon is near, and that God’s kingdom is the only solution for all the problems faced by humanity. The use of God’s name “Jehovah” is considered to be vital for proper worship, as well as adhering to the life and teachings of God’s son Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses also maintain political neutrality and reject teachings such as hellfire, the immortality of the soul and trinitarianism, which are considered to be unscriptural doctrines.
Jehovah’s Witnesses impact the communities in Saint Martin by their distinguishing work of door-to-door preaching and offering free personalized bible courses. This organized religious group also offers free bible-based literature such as the Watchtower and Awake magazines which can also be accessed by an individual on the organization’s official website in any language. Some of the literature offered by Jehovah’s Witnesses is also tailored for individuals in St. Maarten who have disabilities such as those who are blind and deaf.
Some of the other ways that Jehovah’s Witnesses contribute to the community is by organizing disaster-relief aid which provides spiritual, emotional, and material support for its members as well as the community when they are affected by natural disasters such as Hurricanes that are known to occur in Sint Maarten.
The population of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sint Maarten is at least 1.7 percent. The meeting place of Jehovah’s Witnesses is called a Kingdom Hall and meetings on the island are conducted in languages such as English, French, Haitian Creole and Dutch. There are only two Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the island of St. Maarten. The locations of the two Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses are listed below.
13. Evangelical (1.40%)
The Evangelical religions in St. Martin are considered to be part of Protestant Christianity. The teachings of Evangelical churches include the belief that an individual can gain salvation through conversion to the faith, the belief that the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and that Christians should spread the message of the good news to everyone.
There are different denominations of Evangelical Churches in Sint Maarten. Many of the Evangelical Churches on the island impact the community by their efforts to share the gospel to help improve the spiritual lives of others. Most of the Evangelical Churches are active in some of the celebrations that are considered in Sint Maarten such as St. Maarten’s day, and these churches often hold customized church services for these different celebrations. Some of the Evangelical churches in Sint Maarten conduct their services in English, Dutch, Spanish and other languages.
The population of Evangelical churches in St. Maarten is at least 1.4 percent. Some of the different types of Evangelical churches in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Methodist Church
- The Salvation Army SXM
- Christian Fellowship Church
- Philipsburg SDA Church
- New Testament Baptist Church
14. Other (Buddhist, Sikh, Rastafarian) (1.30%)
Some of the other religious groups in Saint Martin include Buddhists, Sikhs, and Rastafarians. This group of religions makes up 1.3 percent of the population of St. Martin.
Buddhists abide by philosophical traditions and teachings that originated from Buddha Gautama who was a historic teacher and ascetic who lived in India. Most Buddhists believe that humans can overcome suffering caused by ignorance and desire. Buddhism teaches that humans can transcend to a spiritual heaven-like state of peace and happiness by meditation, the study of Buddhist texts and other practices. There is no Buddhist temple in Sint Maarten, however, Buddhists do not consider it essential to go to a temple and can worship at their homes.
Sikhs in St. Maarten adhere to the religion called Sikhism. The teachings of Sikhs include the belief that there is only one God, everyone is equal before God, and that each Sikh should strive to participate in selfless service for the prosperity and benefit of all. Sikhs in St. Maarten usually wear turbans as part of their identity to symbolize piety, equality, honor, self-respect, spirituality, and courage among other qualities. The scriptural text that is considered by Sikhs is called the Guru Granth Sahib. The worship place of Sikhs is called a Gurdwara which is open to people from all faiths. There is no Gurdwara in Sint Maarten. Sikhism can also be practiced privately in the home.
Rastafarians are part of a religion called Rastafari which is a political and religious movement. The former Ethiopian Emperor “Haile Selassie” (Tafari Makonnen) is regarded as the second coming of Jesus by many who practise the Rastafari religion. Haile Selassie is also a prominent figure for his active role in social and political reforms such as the abolition of slavery. The Rastafari religion includes a combination of mysticism, Pan-African political consciousness, and Protestant Christianity.
Rastafarians believe in a single God whom they refer to as Jah. The beliefs of Rastafarians are also based on specific interpretations of the Bible. The common practices of Rastafarians include chanting, music, discussions, and the smoking of cannabis. Rastafarians in Sint Maarten can practice their religion from anywhere and often emphasize living naturally, following patriarchal gender roles, wearing their hair in dreadlocks, and following a unique diet called Ital.
15. Islam/Jewish (1.10%)
The island of Saint Martin is home to some Islamic and Jewish religious communities. People who practise the Islamic faith are called Muslims. The Jewish religion is called Judaism. The two religious groups make up 1.1 percent of the population on the island of St. Maarten.
The Islamic community in Sint Maarten center their beliefs on the Quran which is written in Arabic and considered to be the final revelations of God to the prophet Muhammad. The Islamic religion teaches that God is unique, merciful and all powerful, and has provided guidance for humans through revealed scriptures, natural signs, and prophets. Islam also teaches that the unrighteous will be punished in hell while the righteous will be rewarded in paradise.
The different customs and practices of Islam that include prayer 5 times a day, serve to help Muslims maintain their faith and relationship with God. The laws of Islam aim to improve overall livelihood from the welfare of women and the environment to financial matters such as banking. The Muslim community in St. Maarten was established in the 1980s and they worship at the Sint Maarten Islamic Center in the Dutch capital Philipsburg.
The Jewish community in St. Maarten center their beliefs on the historic texts and traditions of Judaism. Some of the teachings of Judaism include the belief of one God who has established a special covenant with Jews as his chosen people. Most of the Jews in St. Martin follow the writings of the Torah which contains text from the Hebrew scriptures or Old Testament. Jews also believe that God communicates to believers through prophets and punishes those who do evil while rewarding those who practice good deeds. The place of worship for Jews is called a Synagogue and the spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
The history of the Jewish community in Sint Maarten began in the year 1735 when there were two Jewish families living on the island at the time. The first Jewish congregation was established in the 1780s in a Synagogue that was situated in the Dutch capital of St. Maarten called Philipsburg. The Synagogue in Philipsburg was later destroyed by Hurricane San Mateo in 1819. There is a new Synagogue that was set up in Simpson Bay which is under the spiritual leadership of a Rabbi who has been on the island since the year 2009. The Jewish community in Sint Maarten provides religious services to the local Jews as well as other Jews who visit the island.
How does religion affect Sint Maarten culture?
The religion in Sint Maarten affects the culture in positive ways. The culture of the people of Sint Maarten is generally known to be welcoming and hospitable. Some of the religions in St. Maarten contribute to this welcoming culture by instilling values and principles that help people treat each other with warmth and kindness. Some of the religious teachings in Sint Maarten also help the local people to be accommodating of people of other nationalities, language groups and races.
What places of worship are there on Sint Maarten?
There are different types of places of worship in Sint Maarten. There are at least 28 churches in Sint Maarten. There are two Kingdom Halls on the island for those who belong to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization and there are also at least 3 other places of worship for people who practice other religions in Sint Maarten such as Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. There are at least 34 places in Sint Maarten that are dedicated to worship and other religious activities.
Is there an official religion of Sint Maarten?
No. There is no official religion of Sint Maarten. The Dutch side of the island mostly favors Protestant Christian denominations while the French side of Saint Martin favors the Roman Catholic religion.