The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
There is no official state religion; however, the Catholic Church receives significant state financial support and other benefits established in four concordats between the government and the Vatican. According to the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities, the concordats grant the Catholic Church more than $43 million dollars in annual government funding for religious education and other operational costs.
The government also has agreements with Bet Israel (a Jewish group), the SPC, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Christian Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, the Church of God, the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the Croatian Old Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church, the Islamic Community of Croatia, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Reformed Christian Church, the Union of Baptist Churches, the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, and the Union of Pentecostal Churches of Christ. According to the Commission for Relations with Religious Communities, the government provided 20 million kuna ($3,440,000) during the year to these groups in amounts proportional to their size. A registered religious community may enter into agreements with the government if it was historically present in Croatia in 1941, or if it has at least 6,000 members.
The concordats and other agreements allow state financing for salaries and pensions of some religious officials through government-managed pension and health funds. Marriages conducted by religious communities having agreements with the state are officially recognized, eliminating the need for civil registration. The concordats and agreements also regulate public school religious instruction and military chaplains. The law requires a religious group to have at least 500 members and be registered as an association for at least five years before being registered as a religious community. Registered religious communities have legal status and receive tax and other benefits. Religious communities in the country prior to the law’s 2003 passage do not have to meet these criteria. There are currently 44 registered religious communities.
The law broadly defines the legal position of religious communities and covers such matters as government funding, tax benefits, and religious education in schools. The government requires religious education in public schools, although attendance is optional. The Roman Catholic catechism is the predominant religious text used. The other 16 religious groups having agreements with the state may offer religious education in schools in which there are seven or more students of a given faith. Students may opt out of religious education, although some groups reported there was potentially a stigma associated with doing so.
Matters such as pensions for clergy, religious services in the military, police force, or penitentiaries, and recognition of religious marriages are left to each religious community to negotiate separately with the government.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Epiphany, Easter Monday, Corpus Christi Day, Assumption Day, All Saints Day, Christmas, and Saint Stephen’s Day.