Pacific Islands Religious Communities

Joel Robbins

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Pacific Islands Religious Communities


When one considers processes of globalization in the Pacific Islands, one is struck by the extent to which religion has been central to them. There are grounds to argue that religion, and Christianity in particular, has been the single most powerful globalizing force throughout the Pacific Islands. Although the region comprises such social, cultural, and historical diversity among the islands of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia that generalization is rendered treacherous, this claim about the importance of religion to globalization is one that holds very broadly. Urban politics are almost everywhere carried out in rhetoric rich in Christian allusions and assumptions. One can find all kinds of syncretism in the Pacific Islands. One can detect something of a general trend in the development of Pacific Island syncretisms; a trend that can be approached by contrasting cargo cults and Christian revivals—two kinds of movements that have become emblematic of religious life in Melanesia in particular.

Keywords: Pacific Islands; globalization; religion; Christianity; cargo cults; syncretism; Christian revivals; Melanesia; Polynesia; Micronesia

Article.  3543 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations

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