The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The constitution provides for the right of individuals to choose, practice, and change their religion. The constitution also guarantees the right of any citizen to sue the government for the violation of any constitutionally protected freedom.
The Law on Religious Congregations governs relations between the government and religious groups. The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) and the presidency must approve and register religious groups for them to function legally. It is illegal for a religious group to operate without official recognition; however, the law prescribes no specific penalties for violations, and numerous unregistered small religious groups operate freely.
In order to register, a religious group must legally qualify as a religious congregation. The definition includes “any group of natural persons or corporate bodies whose vocation is divine worship” or “any group of persons living in community in accordance with a religious doctrine.” The religious group then submits a file to MINATD. The file must include a request for authorization, a copy of the group’s charter describing planned activities, and the names and functions of the group’s officials. MINATD reviews the file and sends it to the presidency with a recommendation to approve or deny. The president may then grant authorization by presidential decree. Although official recognition confers no general tax benefits, it allows religious groups to receive real estate as tax-free gifts for the conduct of their activities, allows missionaries to receive visas with longer validity, and permits public gathering and worship.
Several religious denominations operate primary and secondary schools. The law charges the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Secondary Education with ensuring that private schools run by religious groups meet the same standards as state-operated schools in terms of curriculum, infrastructure, and teacher training. The government provides an annual subsidy to all private primary and secondary education institutions, including those operated by religious denominations. There were also several religious universities in the country.
The law does not restrict religious publishing or other religious media. The Catholic Church operates a private printing press and publishes a weekly newspaper, L’Effort Camerounais. This private printing press also prints several privately held secular newspapers.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Ascension Day, Assumption Day, Eid al-Fitr, Eid Al Adha, and Christmas.