The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. An antidiscrimination law to protect against different forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on religious beliefs, was implemented on January 1.
There is no official state religion, but a 2001 amendment to the constitution specifically lists five religious groups: the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric (MOC-OA), the Islamic Community of Macedonia (ICM), the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish Community, and the Evangelical Methodist Church. Members of other religious groups asserted that the government favored the MOC-OA.
The law requires religious groups to register in order to acquire status as legal entities and states that all registered groups are separate from the state and equal before the law. The law details application materials for new registrants and a timeline in which the court must issue its rulings. The name and official insignia of new groups must be different from the names and insignia of previously registered groups, but the law allows multiple groups of a single faith to register. The courts have interpreted the law to require that the registered leaders of religious groups be Macedonian citizens.
Foreigners associated with registered religious groups who seek to enter the country to carry out religious work or perform religious rites must obtain a visa before arriving. Religious groups reported that the process takes approximately four months.
Private religious primary schools are not allowed under the law, but there are no restrictions on private religious schools at the secondary level and above, or on religious education that takes place in religious spaces, such as churches and mosques.
The Ministry of Education began a new course during the 2010-2011 school year that requires fifth grade students to select from three choices: Introduction to Religions, Ethics in Religion, or Classical Culture in European Civilization. There were no reports of controversy about the introduction of these courses. In 2009 the Constitutional Court ruled that a religious education course, which included a single-faith religious option, was inconsistent with the constitution’s separation of church and state.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Easter and Christmas according to the Julian calendar and Ramazan Bajram (end of Ramadan). Other Christian, Islamic, and Jewish holidays are not national holidays, but are government-designated religious holidays for adherents of those faiths.