The constitution and other laws and policies generally 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 these groups the same rights as those afforded to the three state religions. Officially recognized religious groups receive import duty exemptions for humanitarian and development projects.
Organizations apply for registration with 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 and map for religious facilities, and description of the group’s finances. Criteria for recognition include the authenticity of the religious leader’s diploma and, most importantly, the government’s assessment of the ethical behavior of the group, which must not cause a breach of public order. The Directorate of Religious Affairs issues a receipt that serves as temporary recognition for religious groups and associations applying for registration. The investigation and issuance of formal written authorization usually takes several years.
Religious groups must request permission to conduct large nighttime celebrations, particularly those likely to block city streets or involve loud ceremonies in residential areas. Officials routinely grant 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. There are, however, many Catholic, Protestant, and Islamic schools, and the government provides additional teachers and staff, who are direct government employees, to these schools. Other religious groups have the right to establish schools, as long as they meet the accreditation standards.
The constitution explicitly prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion. Private religious radio stations are forbidden from airing political broadcasts.