The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. According to the constitution, the state respects and provides for “religious liberty and spiritual beliefs, in accordance with its worldview.” The state is independent from the church.
The constitution provides both individual and collective religious and spiritual rights and allows public and private religious services. The constitution gives educational centers the right to teach religion and indigenous spiritual belief classes as a way to encourage mutual respect between communities of faith. Discrimination in access to educational institutions on the basis of religious belief is prohibited and the right to access public sport and recreational activities without regard to religion is protected.
The government has encouraged the Catholic Church to continue its social welfare projects. Written agreements between the government and the Catholic Church, including a five-year framework agreement signed in August 2009, formalized the Catholic Church’s extensive work in the areas of education, health, and social welfare.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to acquire legal representation, including religious organizations and missionary groups, must register with the governor’s office of their respective state. Religious organizations and missionary groups also must register with the MFA's Office of Religion and Nongovernmental Organizations to receive recognition as religious associations. The current MFA registry counts more than 330 religious organizations. Religious organizations also must submit an annual report to the Religion and Nongovernmental Organization Office in order to remain on the registry. Religious groups that receive foreign sources of funding are not permitted to register as religious associations but may enter into a framework agreement with the government for three years that affords the same judicial standing as NGOs, including tax-exempt status.
Registered religious organizations receive tax exemptions. Registration is essential to obtain tax, customs, and other legal benefits. The ministry may not deny legal recognition to any organization based on its articles of faith and does not charge a fee for registration; however, the arduous procedure typically requires legal assistance.
As permitted by the constitution, some public schools provide religious instruction. By law, religion classes are optional, and school curriculum materials promote religious tolerance.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Corpus Christi, All Souls’ Day, and Christmas.