Seychelles Table of Contents

Some 90 percent of the population was Roman Catholic as of 1992. The initial white settlers in Seychelles were Roman Catholics, and the country has remained so, despite ineffective British efforts to establish Protestantism in the islands during the nineteenth century. The nation has been a bishopric since 1890, and mission schools had a virtual monopoly on education until the government took over such schools in 1944. Sunday masses are well attended, and religious holidays are celebrated throughout the nation both as opportunities for the devout to practice their faith and as social events. Practicing Catholicism, like speaking French, confers a certain status by associating its adherents with the white settlers from France.

Approximately 7 percent of Seychellois are Anglicans--most coming from families converted by missionaries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Evangelical Protestant churches are active and growing, among them Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists. Some 2 percent of the population are adherents of other faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. No temples or mosques, however, exist on the islands. No restrictions are imposed on religious worship by any of the denominations.

Although clergy and civil authorities disapprove, many Seychellois see little inconsistency between their orthodox religious observance and belief in magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. It is common to consult a local seer--known as a bonhomme de bois or a bonne femme de bois--for fortune-telling or to obtain protective amulets or charms, called gris-gris, to bring harm to enemies.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress