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 all religious groups.
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 to encourage mutual respect between religious communities. It prohibits religious discrimination in access to educational institutions, and protects the right of access to public sport and recreational activities without regard to religion.
The penal code prohibits defamation against individuals or collective groups, although it does not specifically mention religious groups. The penalty for defamation is 20 to 240 days imprisonment.
Government policy encourages the Catholic Church to carry out its social welfare projects. Written agreements between the government and the Catholic Church, including a 2009 framework agreement, formalize the Catholic Church’s extensive work in the areas of education, health, and social welfare.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including religious and missionary groups seeking legal recognition, must register with the governor’s office of their respective state. Religious and missionary groups seeking legal recognition must also register with the MFA's Office of Religion and Nongovernmental Organizations. The current MFA registry includes more than 340 registered religious groups. Religious groups must submit an annual report to the Religion and Nongovernmental Organization Office to remain on the registry. Religious groups receiving foreign sources of funding may not register, 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 groups receive tax, customs, and other legal benefits. The government may not deny legal recognition to any organization based on its articles of faith; there is no fee for registration but the complex procedure typically requires legal assistance.
By law, religion classes are optional and school curriculum materials promote religious tolerance. All teachers, including those in private religious schools, must receive their training in government-run academies.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Winter Solstice/Aymara, New Year, All Souls Day, and Christmas.