The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. The preamble of the constitution refers to a commitment to “traditional Melanesian values, faith in God, and Christian principles.”
Religious organizations are required to register with the government; however, this law was not enforced.
The government interacted with churches through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Vanuatu Christian Council. Aside from the activities of the ministry, use of government resources to support religious activities typically is not condoned (although no law prohibits such support).
Government oaths of office customarily are taken on the Bible.
The government provides grants to church-operated schools and pays teachers’ salaries at church-operated schools that have been in existence since the country’s independence in 1980. These benefits are still not available to the few non-Christian religious schools in the country.
Government schools schedule time each week for religious education conducted by representatives of council churches, using materials those churches produce. There is no uniform standard time for religious instruction across all schools; however, the standard curriculum requires that students in years seven through 12 be allocated one hour a week for religious instruction. The Education Act allows parents to have their children excused from religion classes, although in practice, the schools’ day-long responsibility for students required their presence in class at all times.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Father Lini Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension, Assumption, and Christmas.