The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The constitution now extends to diverse religious groups the right to celebrate religious marriages and provides all civil rights in accordance with the law. This status previously had been an exclusive privilege of the Catholic Church. A new law regulating religious marriages was approved on August 3.
The constitution specifies that there is no state church and provides for freedom of religion and belief. A concordat with the Vatican designates Catholicism as the official religion and extends special privileges to the Catholic Church not granted to other religious groups. These include the legal recognition of church law, use of public funds to underwrite some church expenses, and complete exoneration from customs duties.
Religious groups are required to register with the government. Religious groups other than the Catholic Church may request exoneration from customs duties from the Office of the Presidency. The process can be lengthy; however, no requests for customs exoneration were denied during the year.
The law requires that the Bible be read in public schools, but it was not enforced. Private schools are exempt from this requirement.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Epiphany, Our Lady of Altagracia Day, Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Our Lady of Mercedes Day, and Christmas.