The constitution accords individuals the right to choose, change, and freely practice their religion and prohibits religious discrimination. It specifically recognizes the right of indigenous communities to express their religion freely. The constitution states the relationship between the state and the Catholic Church is based on “independence, cooperation, and autonomy.” The constitution does not address relations between the state and other religious groups. Representatives of the Catholic Christian Apostolic National Church of Paraguay (ICCAN) said the Vice Ministry of Worship (VMW) again rejected their registration request; ICCAN representatives said they believed the Roman Catholic Church had “blocked” ICCAN’s request. According to ICCAN sources, the VMW continued its efforts to remove nonprofit status from churches that the government said had not complied fully with the law prohibiting these entities from engaging in profitmaking activities. Religious groups not affiliated with the Catholic Church said the government disproportionately supported and subsidized teacher salaries at Catholic schools. Representatives of the local Jewish community reported incidents of local government candidates making anti-Semitic remarks during campaign events in advance of December 2017 primaries and the April 2018 general election.
Human rights organizations stated Mennonite employers, the predominant source of employment in the remote areas of the Chaco Region, continued to favor indigenous laborers who had converted to the Mennonite faith over those who had not.
U.S. embassy representatives met with the vice minister of culture at the VMW and discussed challenges ICCAN and some other religious groups faced with registration, the processing of claims of religious discrimination, and the unequal provision of state funding for salaries at schools run by religious groups. Embassy officials also inquired about the VMW’s efforts to remove nonprofit status from churches. Embassy officials met with representatives of the Catholic, Mennonite, Catholic Christian Apostolic, and Jewish communities to discuss interfaith respect for religious diversity and hear their views on the status of religious freedom in the country.