There is no distinct separation between church and state. The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom. The criminal code prohibits any form of discrimination against or debasement of any religion or its adherents. According to the constitution, Roman Catholicism is the state religion “with full protection from the state.” As such, it holds a guaranteed role in education and religious teaching in schools, and has a voice in the political and legal decision-making process.
Funding for religious institutions comes from the municipalities and from the general budget, according to parliamentary or municipal decisions. The government provides Catholic and Protestant churches annual contributions in proportion to membership; smaller religious groups are eligible to apply for grants for associations of foreigners or specific projects. All religious groups have tax-exempt status.
Religious education is part of the curriculum in public schools. Catholic or Protestant religious education is compulsory in all primary schools, but the authorities routinely grant exemptions for children whose parents request them. The Catholic Church determines the Catholic curriculum, with minimal supervision from municipalities. Some primary schools offer Islamic education.
At the secondary school level, parents and students choose between traditional confessional education which their religious community organizes and a course in religion and culture. The government provides financial support to some smaller denominations that choose to offer religious education classes at their places of worship outside regular school hours.
The government does not issue visas for religious workers. It grants short-term residency permits, however. To receive such a permit, applicants must have completed theological studies, be a member of a nationally recognized religious group, and be sponsored by a registered member of the official religious group’s clergy. The Immigration and Passport Office normally processes immigration requests for clergy.
The government grants the Muslim community a residency permit for one imam and a short-term residency permit for an additional imam during Ramadan. The government grants short-term residency permits primarily to the imams of the Turkish Association and other foreign Muslim institutions who agree not to allow or preach sermons that incite violence or advocate intolerance.
The government and the Catholic Church allow Muslims to be buried in all of the country’s cemeteries, although not according to Muslim tradition. There is no Muslim cemetery or mosque in the country. The Muslim community owns two prayer rooms.