The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom.
The government is secular. The constitution states all persons are free to profess their chosen religious belief and to engage in ceremonies and acts of worship. Congress may not enact laws that establish or prohibit any religion. The constitution also provides for the separation of church and state. The constitution prohibits any form of discrimination, including on the basis of religion. A constitutional amendment that took effect in July specifically prohibits the use of acts of worship for political purposes. The amendment allows for religious services to take place “in public as well as private” places, and added “freedom of ethical convictions” to the constitution, intended to guarantee the freedom to have no religious faith. The law defines administrative remedies protecting the right to religious freedom.
The federal government coordinates religious affairs through the Secretariat of Government. The General Directorate for Religious Associations (DGAR) promotes religious tolerance through public information campaigns, conducts conflict mediation, and investigates cases of religious intolerance. If parties present a dispute based on allegations of religious intolerance to the DGAR, it attempts to mediate a solution. If mediation fails, the parties may submit the issue to the DGAR for binding arbitration. If the parties do not agree to this procedure, one or the other may elect to seek judicial redress.
The National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) promotes religious tolerance through outreach efforts and conducts a survey on discrimination, including discrimination based on religion. CONAPRED also receives complaints of discrimination based on religious beliefs and mediates conflicts. All states have administrative offices with responsibility over religious affairs and 22 federal entities have specialized offices dedicated to religious affairs. Chiapas, Guerrero, Yucatan, and Oaxaca states have undersecretaries for religious affairs.
The government requires religious groups to apply for a permit to construct new buildings or convert existing buildings into houses of worship. Any religious building constructed since 1992 is the property of the religious group that built it. All religious buildings erected before 1992 are classified as part of the national patrimony, owned by the state, and exempt from taxes.
The law permits religious groups to operate informally without registering with the government; however, religious groups must be registered to negotiate contracts and purchase or rent land, apply for official building permits, receive tax exemptions, and hold religious meetings outside their customary places of worship. To obtain legal status, a religious group must register with the DGAR as a religious association, and to register, a group must articulate its fundamental doctrines and religious beliefs, not be organized primarily for profit, and not promote acts that are physically harmful or dangerous to its members.
Religious associations must notify the government of their intention to hold a religious meeting outside of a licensed place of worship. Religious associations may not hold political meetings of any kind.
Religious groups may not own or administer broadcast radio or television stations. Government permission is required for commercial broadcast radio or television to transmit religious programming.
The constitution states public education must be secular, but religious groups are permitted to operate private schools. The law takes no position on primary-level homeschooling for religious reasons, but to enter a secondary school, one must have attended an accredited primary school. Homeschooling is allowed at the secondary level after completion of schooling at an accredited primary school.
The constitution bars members of the clergy from holding public office, advocating partisan political views, supporting political candidates, or publically opposing the laws or institutions of the state.