The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom; however, the government remains sensitive to criticism, and religious leaders usually avoid discussions that could be construed as critical of the government or government officials.
In 1991 the government adopted Law Number 4/1991, the Regulation of the Exercise of Religious Freedom, which establishes religious freedom and outlines the procedures for registering a religious institution with the government. In addition, a 1992 presidential decree provides additional regulations including official preference for the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformed Church of Equatorial Guinea. Catholic and Reformed church officials are exempt from airport entry and exit taxes.
The 1992 decree regulates the registration of religious groups. In order to register, religious groups must submit a written application to the Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs, and Penitentiary Institutions. The director general in the ministry oversees compliance with the decree and the registration process. Registration was not required of the Catholic and Reformed churches. Unregistered groups that operated can be fined.
The government generally allows religious teaching and practice, as well as preaching. The government requires religious groups to obtain permission for any activities outside of places of worship. Door-to-door evangelism reportedly occurs without incident.
The Law on the Regulation of the Exercise of Religious Freedom states that each person is free to study his or her religion and should not be forced to study another faith, but the situation is somewhat more complicated. Religious study is optional in public schools and can be replaced by a course in social or civic education. Catholic schools are often the best available option for many students, but non-Catholics are expected to participate in daily Catholic religious lessons and prayers in those schools. In recent years many more Protestant groups, including the Reformed Church, Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God, and Baptists, have operated their own primary and secondary schools.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas.