The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The government recognizes Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam as state religions. The government requires all other religious groups, including indigenous groups, to register as religious associations. Official recognition as a religious association affords them the same rights as those afforded to Catholic, Protestant and Muslim groups. Officially recognized religious groups receive import duty exemptions for humanitarian and development projects.
Organizations apply for registration to the directorate of religious affairs, in the Ministry of Territorial Administration (MTA). A religious group must submit its statutes, statement of doctrine, bylaws, names and addresses of executive board members, the group leader’s religious credentials, a site use agreement, site map, and description of its financial situation. Criteria for recognition include the authenticity of the religious leader’s diploma and, most importantly, the ethical behavior of the group, which must not cause a breach of public order. The directorate of religious affairs issues a receipt serving as temporary recognition for applicant religious groups and associations. This allows the group to practice its religion, pending investigation and issuance of formal written authorization, which usually takes several years. The government reportedly did not deny any requests for registration during the year.
Religious groups must request permission to conduct large nighttime celebrations, particularly those likely to block city streets or to involve loud ceremonies in residential areas. Officials routinely granted these requests. The MTA handles complaints associated with religious organizations, particularly noise complaints from nighttime celebrations and sends security force personnel to resolve issues.
The public school curriculum does not include religion classes; however, there are many Catholic, Protestant, and Islamic schools, and the government provides them with teachers and other staff, and pays their salaries.
The constitution explicitly prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion, ethnic group, or region.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Easter Monday, Ascension, Pentecost Monday, Assumption, Eid al-Fitr, All Saints’ Day, Tabaski (commonly known as Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Kebir), and Christmas.