Bahamas, The
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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 1973
Last Amended 2002
Source Political Database of the Americas
Translation Original was written in English
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2

[ARDA Note: The clauses reproduced below are from the 1973 Constitution provided on the website of the Political Database of the Americas; the original document did not contain the 2002 constitutional amendments. The amendments do not contain any religious content; to read the amendments, please visit the website of NATLEX (ILO).]


Whereas Four hundred and eighty-one years ago the rediscovery of this Family of Islands, Rocks and Cays heralded the rebirth of the New World;
And Whereas the People of this Family of Islands recognizing that the preservation of their Freedom will be guaranteed by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the Rule of Law;
Now Know Ye Therefore:
We the Inheritors of and Successors to this Family of Islands, recognizing the Supremacy of God and believing in the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual, Do Hereby Proclaim in Solemn Praise the Establishment of a Free and Democratic Sovereign Nation founded on Spiritual Values and in which no Man, Woman or Child shall ever be Slave or Bondsman to anyone or their Labor exploited or their Lives frustrated by deprivation, and do Hereby Provide by these Articles for the indivisible Unity and Creation under God of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Article 15: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual.

Whereas every person in The Bahamas is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely-
(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;
(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association; and
(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation, the subsequent provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

Article 18: Protection from Slavery and Forced Labor.

(1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) No person shall be required to perform forced labor.
(3) For the purposes of this Article, "forced labor" does not include-
(a) any labor required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court;
(b) any labor required of a member of a disciplined force in pursuance of his duties as such or, in the case of a person who has conscientious objections to service in a naval, military or air force, any labor which that person is required by law to perform in place of such service;
(c) labor required of any person while he is lawfully detained which, though not required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court, is reasonably necessary in the interests of hygiene or for the maintenance of the place in which he is detained; or
(d) any labor required during a period of public emergency (that is to say, a period to which Article 29 of this Constitution applies) or in the event of any other emergency or calamity that threatens the life or well-being of the community, to the extent that the requiring of such labor is reasonably justifiable, in the circumstances of any situation arising or existing during that period or as a result of that other emergency or calamity, for the purpose of dealing with that situation.

Article 22: Protection of Freedom of Conscience.

(1) Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion of belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
(2) Except with his consent (or, if he is a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years, the consent of his guardian) no person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance of that instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own.
(3) No religious body or denomination shall be prevented from or hindered in providing religious instruction for persons of that body of denomination in the course of any education provided by that body or denomination whether or not that body or denomination is in receipt of any government subsidy, grant or other form of financial assistance designed to meet, in whole or in part, the cost of such course of education.
(4) No person shall be compelled to take any oath which is contrary to his religion or belief of to take any oath in a manner which is contrary to his religion or belief.
(5) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this Article to the extent that the law in question makes provision which is reasonably required-
(a) in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons, including the right to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited interference of member of any other religion,
- and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

Article 26: Protection from Discrimination on the Grounds of Race, etc.

(1) Subject to the provision of paragraph (4), (5) and (9) of this Article no law shall make any provision which is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
(2) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (6), (9) and (10) of this Article, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the function of any public office or any public authority.
(3) In this Article, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different person attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed whereby person of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which person of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.
(5) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent whit [sic] or in contravention of paragraph (1) of this Article to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being a standard or qualification specifically relating to race, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed) in order to be eligible for service as a public officer or as a member of a disciplined force of for the service of a local government authority or a body corporate established by law for public purposes.

[Note: The constitutional text hosted by the Political Database of the Americas is reproduced from official government sources.]


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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